Automation could significantly impact parking investments

The urban parking space could be one of the first to be disrupted by "Uber-like" technological change, delegates at Infrastructure Investor's Berlin Summit heard today.

A world replete with automated vehicles may still seem fodder for distant future fantasies, but investors in the parking sub-sector are already beginning to consider the impacts automation could have on their business models.

When asked by Antin Infrastructure Partners' Mark Crosbie at the Infrastructure Investor Berlin Summit this morning whether there is a risk of an “Airbnb in parking,” Ross Israel, head of infrastructure at QIC, said that investors need to consider the root of what leads to disruptors entering a marketplace in the first place.

“If you think [of] Uber and Airbnb, what happened is these businesses latched onto a latent capacity,” Israel said.

In QIC's mind, quite possibly the most significant disruptor to parking infrastructure in the coming years will likely come from automated vehicles, the advent of which is likely to impact business models significantly.

“Inner core parking could be phased out,” he said. “What that means is you need to be a more active investor going forward.”  

For those who see the automated car as a problem for distant horizons, Israel pointed out that vehicle automation is already prevalent in the industrial space. 

“We're already seeing fully automated container terminals. So from an industrial perspective, in transportation we're already seeing the penetration of automation,” Israel said.

Or as Crosbie put it, “Infrastructure is moving away from being the safe predictable asset you can lock away and get the coupon on every quarter. It's facing risks and opportunities that none of us could have predicted before.”