An Apology, New-Car Sales, E-cars, Uber and Lyft


An Apology, New-Car Sales, E-cars, Uber and Lyft

When I started Parking Today almost a quarter of a century ago, my goal was to increase communications within the parking industry. I have been proud that we have done at least a journeyman’s job at that task. However, in the past couple of years, we have begun to drift a bit, with stories and comments being published that did not belong in a magazine about parking, transportation, and smart cities.

All these were printed with the best of intentions, but as you know, there is a well paved road with those good intentions. Effective immediately, Parking Today is cleansing itself of articles which don’t relate to our key topic or to well run businesses.

Articles can seem innocent, but from a different point of view can be divisive and offensive. I am sorry that this has crept into Parking Today.

My sincere apologies for any offence these articles have caused. They don’t belong here. And will not be seen in PT again.


The parking industry needs to keep its eye on new-car sales. After all, once folks buys a car, they need to park it somewhere. So what do the prognostication wizards say about what will happen in 2018? There was a short article in Forbes magazine that gave us some idea.

To summarize:  Sales may be down slightly in the U.S. and Western Europe, but will skyrocket in Russia, Eastern Europe, India, China and Japan. Does this mean we should open overseas offices tomorrow? It may not be a bad idea.

But before you buy your $151 fare on Norwegian Air Lines, consider what is really happening in the U.S. We will be purchasing more than 17 million cars in 2018 — maybe down a percentage point from 2017, but still a goodly number.

The economy appears to be booming, and that means folks will have more disposable income, and those new cars really look great. Give the old Belchfire 12 to the kids and pick up a hot little number from Detroit, Stuttgart or Tokyo for yourself. Why not?

My buddy Dale Denda talks about planning for the future. He posits that these numbers are real and will continue to be. We should be planning, he says, for infrastructure development, parking facilities and technology advancement to handle the existing numbers, and the increase to come. After all, cars are lasting longer, and just because someone buys a new car, it doesn’t’ mean the old one goes away. Take a look at your neighbor’s driveway if you don’t believe me.

We humans are a resilient lot. We look at problems and then find solutions. Technology can go only so far. Once we have on-board parking-finding systems, we need to have places for them to find. A little outside the box thinking might be in order. Those closed garages supporting banks or offices that are closed at night might be perfect for people going to the area for dinner or entertainment.

What about shuttle services handling the “last mile” issues, and enticing drivers to park a few blocks away from their final destination?  Pricing might be a good enticement, with these less convenient lots being considerably cheaper than the spot next door.

Of course, for the long haul, perhaps a peek across the pond would be in order. India, Japan, Eastern Europe, Russia and China might use the expertise we have built over the past half-century of parking cars here in the U.S.

According to a headline in the LA Times, “E-cars still have a long way to go.” Reporter Russ Mitchell tears into the “electrified” auto industry  The devil is in the details.

First of all, Mitchell talks about actual numbers. In 2017, about 200,000 pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars were sold. That’s about 1% of the total 17 million cars sold in the U.S. He comments that “a mix of hype and publicity about future products is what marked 2017 on the electric car front.”

The most successful e-car introduction was GM’s Chevy Bolt, which is selling, at $37,000 a pop, on average 2,500 cars a month. Tesla, with all its public relations and energy, is failing to meet even minimal deliveries of its new Model 3. The company claiming to have 400,000 orders, projected to be filling thousands of orders per week, and due to manufacturing problems, both at its auto and battery plants, has sold only a few hundred.

It seems that auto companies talk about “electrified” models, but that means cars that have some kind of electric drive, but not full electric.  Most have engines that kick in after a few miles. No one in the industry, it seems, considers these cars, by any stretch of the imagination, electric.

Only two fully electric vehicles will be introduced this year, one each by Jaguar and Porsche. The majors are committed to having electric models on the market in the next few years, but that is driven not by customer demand, but by government edict.

Price and range will ultimately drive the market. E-cars must compete with current gasoline models in both areas. That isn’t happening anytime soon. Projections put these market-drivers years out.

Wow! I’m not sure what all this means to the
parking industry.

It might mean that we provide charging services a tad more limited than some might like. We might also consider ensuring that we figure out a way to charge for the electricity (understanding that reselling electrons is illegal in most areas).

If the charging concept is going to be moving as slowly as e-car sales, we might have time to develop ways to cover our costs and then some for charging services. Perhaps locate the charging stations in more convenient spots and charge more to park there; or offer e-valet services and charge for the service, not the electricity?

Just something to consider as the new year dawns warm and bright, unless you live where it’s cold and dark.


Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft are supposed to have cut traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, right? If you think about it, if I take Uber, my car is off the road, and then the Uber driver picks up someone else whose car is off the road, and so on and so on, so traffic should be reduced by Uber, Lyft and co. But wait.

According to The New York Times, in the Big Apple, Uber is actually causing congestion. It seems that more than 60,000 drivers have become Uber and Lyft chauffeurs, and now congestion has slowed traffic in Manhattan from 6.5 mph to 4.7 mph, and everyone is complaining.

The city had limited the number of taxis that could ply their trade on the island to around 13,600, and that kept congestion to a minimum, but it also meant that getting a taxi at 5 p.m. in the rain was virtually impossible.

Enter free enterprise and Uber. Now, hailing a vehicle is quick and easy, but you sit in traffic created by the smartphone app phenomenon. The law of unintended consequences is alive and well.

It appears the navigation app Waze has simply moved traffic from congested thoroughfares to quiet side streets and is causing havoc in formerly sleepy neighborhoods. Isn’t technology wonderful? But that’s another column.

So, can you guess how the powers that be in New York are going to solve this problem? Yep, tax it. They figure that by raising taxes on Uber and Lyft, they will move riders from the car to the currently dysfunctional subway, and all will be right with the world. Plus, the city’s pockets will get some much needed filling.

I wonder — what if they just left well enough alone.

Would not a lot of Uber and Lyft drivers simply stop driving since they would be unable to make much money because there were more cars than riders and trips would take so long that they couldn’t get the turnover needed to cover costs?

Unchecked, capitalism often fixes problems without outside help. But what do I know?

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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