Listen to Sarah and Alexa, not Elon…


Listen to Sarah and Alexa, not Elon…

My dinner last night left a bit of indigestion. The food was good, as was the company, but the conversation, well not so much.

A friend told the story about the owner of a parking garage that produced upwards of $20 million a year in profits. This entrepreneur wanted to build another garage in a nearby city and went to his bank for financing, offering to use his existing, highly profitable, property as collateral for the construction project.

The Bank came back with a resounding “NO!”

They told him in no uncertain terms that they had been reading about the so called autonomous vehicles just around the corner that would put the parking industry out of business and there was no future in investing in parking, particularly parking structures.

My friend noted that this kind of conversation was anathema to our industry.

Fact: Autonomous Vehicles are coming sometime, in the future. They are perhaps decades away.

Fact: Their affect on our industry is unknowable. If anything, it will be similar to Uber and Lyft.

Fact: Percentage of ridership on rapid transit is static or going down, why? People are buying cars and will buy upwards of 17 million this year.

Fact: The 260 million cars in the US aren’t going away. The number is going up.

Fact: We will have to park those cars somewhere.

Fact: The Banker believed the hype of techno companies, and not the information he could see by looking out his window.

Fact: The developer isn’t getting his loan, and that is bad for our industry.

Fact: We need to communicate the facts about autonomous vehicles more accurately.

Fact: We as an industry are sipping at the Kool-aid. Presentation after presentation at our trade events are about limited garage construction, the advent of autonomous vehicles, and our industry’s checkered future.

The problem is that we as an industry are a niche, within a niche. The gigantic automobile and tech industry, which is hyping these things, is doing so for a couple of reasons.

First, everyone wants to be on the cutting edge and they are investing billions to win the race.

Second, the tech sector is driving this tsunami. And they believe that anything is possible and will happen instantly. Moore’s Law is alive and well in everything techno based, including autonomous vehicles. That means technology is moving at the speed of light and everything will be here if not tomorrow, or worst case, the day after.

Moore posited in 1965 that the number of transistors on a dense integrated circuit would double every two years. This held true until 2015 or so, when he projected that his law would phase out in the next decade. In other words, technology is still moving apace, but its future is not unlimited, but will slow. Moore’s law is not a physical law like gravity, it is more of an educated guess.

The banker in my friend’s story has drunk the Kool-Aid. Someone who was a techie said it, it must be true.

I just received a story from Sarah Becherer at SpotHero about voice activated software that is being integrated in new cars coming out as soon as next year. She posits that with all the things you will want to do in your car from ordering coffee to finding a parking space, voice activation is the way to go, and Apple and Google are leading the way. Read it in the March issue of PT.

This means that the techno desires of the public will be satisfied by connected high tech cars for the near and mid future. And this is real, not a figment of some auto nerd’s imagination. Can you say Alexia?

This banker needs to listen to the likes of Sarah, not Elon Musk.




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John Van Horn

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