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Parking The Road Ahead

December, 2018

Paul Gallagher

Car parking is very much in fashion at the moment with investors paying eyewatering numbers to acquire car parking companies. Some recent examples of landmark deals in the industry include the American investors Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) acquisition of Q Park in late 2017; and Japanese operator Park 24, along with the Development Bank of Japan’s recent acquisition of National Car Parks (NCP) with Australian infrastructure fund Macquarie, having sold NCP immediately after acquiring the Iberian operator Empark. 


Macquarie have subsequently also acquired Parking Eye in the UK.


So, what is driving this interest from investors? Car parks are increasingly being considered as ‘main stream’ investments with investors better understanding the metrics of operational businesses and the cashflows they produce, backed up by the underlying land values upon which the car parks sit. 


Car parks themselves are changing and providing new opportunities for the industry to capitalize on emerging trends. The data produced by car parks will affect the industry greatly, in fact it should be considered the new ‘oil’ in terms of its value. 


Every time a car enters or leaves a car park it leaves a data trail. The date and time that the car entered and exited, how much the driver paid, method of payment and so on are all recorded. By capturing and analyzing the data recorded, it can be used to help understand customers behavioral patterns.


Car parking machines may become a thing of the past with parking paid for through apps on mobile devices or where the car’s registration number becomes a ‘virtual ticket’ for all parking transactions. This will further feed into the data reservoir which, if analysed properly, will lead to cark park demand predictions. 


 


Mobility as a service


The function of car park operators may also evolve from simply parking providers to mobility services providers. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is becoming an increasingly familiar theme in looking at the way urban transport systems will operate in the future. As cities move towards banning cars to lower emissions and increase walkability, it is likely that in the future fewer people will own cars, but will utilize car clubs, ride sharing and ride hailing as their preferred modes of transport. 


Car parks may also become hubs for final mile journeys, be these by bicycle, scooter or foot. This will be further driven by generational change as younger generations adopt new concepts of mobility.


The growing trend toward electric vehicles, driven by government policies to improve air quality will mean that car parks also need to evolve to meet this trend. 


Electric vehicle infrastructure in the UK is currently lagging behind the rest of Europe, particularly Nordic countries. A recent piece of research carried out by JLL of local authority car parks showed that out of 276,000 spaces in the survey only 0.003 percent had any electric charging capability. 


Car parks that offer electric vehicle charging will become destination car parks, those that do not will be left behind. Studies have shown that car parks with electric vehicle charging enjoy increased dwell times and can profit from the power they supply. 


According to research by electric vehicle charging network, ChargePoint, when one of the largest retailers in North America installed electric vehicle charging points at one of its new locations, it saw that customers using their charging points increased their dwell time at the store by 50 minutes (an increase of 327 percent). 


The charging points dispensed 3,910 kWh of electricity costing the retailer roughly $430, but overall throughout the timeline of the pilot project, its gross revenue increased by approximately $56,000. 


So, while there will be much change in the industry over the coming years, car park owners and operators must not see this change as a threat, but as an opportunity. The evolvement of car park operators into mobility service providers will provide new and as yet undiscovered opportunities and revenue streams. 


Data is the new currency and operators should utilize the data they already have to identify how this can bring efficiencies within their operations and improve their bottom line. The future is coming, let’s embrace it. 


Paul Gallagher is a Car Park consultant in JLL’s Automotive team. He can be reached at paul.gallagher@eu.jll.com


Parking is a Complex and Subtle Industry. 


Paul Gallagher’s interesting article comes from a perspective that is about as far from my experience as one could get. 


With new owners it will be interesting to see how the Dutch giant Q Park and Iberian operator Empark will evolve. Macquarie’s have already shed the Empark UK subsidiary. I wonder if the culture or long-term organic growth will be replaced by a shorter-term focus on return on investment. 


New technology will of course allow vast amounts of data about users to be collected, stored and analyzed. The danger here, in my opinion, is that if this becomes a way of selling more, rather than selling better, then in a price sensitive, competitive business, it’s way too easy to go from hero to zero.


The suggestion that payments systems are just about to go extinct is of course mainstream future thinking, promoted, not least of all, by app sellers. Until there is 100 percent penetration of another system, cash will remain.


Mobility as a Service is today’s must-use jargon, but the evidence is very far from unambiguous and Motown is showing no signs of seeking to diversify, as far as I know. TNCs look far from part of the future when one realizes that users are only paying about 40 percent of the true costs. And far from reducing congestion, they have led to a massive increase in circulating traffic in urban centers.


There is no evidence of a move to electric vehicles. Market share is tiny and so even a small change looks big. The United States’ devotion to large SUVs, means the market for electric cars, which are small and/or expensive, doesn’t exactly look rosy. Issues such as end of life disposal and the implications for the grid of having a substantial proportion of the fleet electric are nowhere near a solution.


So, the world will change, and the businesses that are most agile will benefit most. I think that many of the “successor” technologies will in fact be additive and be subsumed into what’s already there 



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