Driverless Cars Will Drive Change - Is Your Commercial Property Ready?

By Robert Kelly August 30, 2017

The year is 2025, and modes of personal transport in Australia have changed irrevocably. People have stopped driving altogether, switching to self-drive (or autonomous) electric vehicles. The entire market for land transport has switched to electrification, which is 10 times cheaper to run than fossil fuel-based cars. No petrol or diesel cars, buses or trucks are sold anywhere in the world.

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This scenario might sound outlandish, but it is part of a detailed futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba, detailed in his report – “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030”.

The explosion in the popularity of services such as Uber and home delivery appears to be just the start of a longer-term trend away from car ownership. When combined with the increasing use of driverless vehicles, it is easy to see a major societal shift is actually now underway. A fleet of autonomous Ubers is already on the streets of Pittsburgh in the US, with the company’s CEO expecting the entire fleet to be driverless by 2030. 

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Start Planning Now

If the professor’s predictions are anywhere near accurate, then owners and developers of commercial properties will need to start planning now to future-proof their office and mixed-use buildings.

It is possible that the vast majority of driverless cars will be parked in recharging ports (probably on the outskirts of metropolitan areas) when they are not in use, which means current on site car parking facilities may become rapidly redundant.
Commercial property owners and developers will likely need to think about:

  • including pick-up and drop-off zones at building entrances;
  • factoring in a much-reduced need for car parking in new developments and/or provisioning for onsite recharging facilities;
  • allowing more space for bikes and scooters as these will likely become even more popular for inner-city dwellers;
  • exploring potential alternative uses for current basement car parking areas.

We all need to prepare for a future of self-driving cars - some far thinking developers are already creating parking decks that can easily be converted into traditional office spaces or into alternative uses such as gymnasiums, for example. 

What else might we see?

The redundancy of commercial basement car-parking would significantly reduce construction costs and timeframes, thus making building ownership more affordable.

Privately owned commercial car parks may become obsolete and be sold to developers. Council-owned car parks could potentially be turned into playgrounds, community centres and parks.

As autonomous trucks become cheaper, the size and nature of factories and warehouses is expected to change, too. Smaller facilities in lower-cost areas are likely to experience a surge in demand as distributors deliver more goods directly to consumers because of changes to cost and timing factors.

We believe these changes are imminent and will inevitably affect all forms of real estate. Commercial property owners in particular need to adapt smartly.

If you are thinking of improving your commercial property, talk to our Property Management team today. Their knowledge of industry changes coupled with more than 20 years experience will give you ideas to start future-proofing your investment.

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