Connected Cars Could Help Save Money on Parking Costs

The indirect and hidden costs of driving, such as sitting in traffic and searching for parking, carried an economic burden of $3,037 per driver in 2017 for US drivers, according to a report released this week by connected car analytics specialist Inrix.

According to the data, traffic- and parking-related costs made up nearly half — 45% — of the total cost of ownership in the US, a number that could be sharply reduced by improvements in connected car technology, according to Inrix chief economist Dr. Graham Cookson. Taking everything into account, the average US driver faced a total driving cost of $10,288 in 2017.

New York City was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most expensive city for drivers out of the 30 cities studied, with the total cost of driving in the Big Apple nearly two times higher than the national average at $18,926 per driver.

This was mostly due to the cost of parking. New Yorkers parked more often (ten times a week), paid more frequently — 60% — and paid the most, with an eye-watering average off-street rate of $28 for two hours.

Cookson told The Connected Car that some cities — London specifically — are putting sensors under on-street parking to tell drivers if a parking spot is occupied or not.

“The first part of the parking puzzle is to find parking, and to help people find parking that is close to their destination, and also to find the cheapest parking,” Cookson said.

He noted that while there are a number of web-based and application-based services out there dedicated to parking, very few companies have put all that information under one umbrella.

This is where automakers can help.

“Drivers don’t want to open ten apps to park,” Cookson explained. “OEMs are going to be very important because they have the prime real estate — the dashboard — and that’s where the power of the connected car is in creating a seamless journey.”

One of the major evolutionary changes in mobility services and connected cars will be shifting the role of the car as sole mode of transport to a piece of the journey.

He pointed to the technology found in the BMW i3, which will tell drivers the best way to get to where they need to go, connecting the car to real-time information about all transport services.

“Your car has to think of itself as part of a larger network,” he said. “It’s a bit of a cliché now, but this idea of mobility as a service is really important, and we need to think of how the vehicle becomes part of the larger ecosystem.”

He argued what the market doesn’t need is a smartphone-like interface plugged into a car, which is the approach the majority of OEMs seem to have taken so far.

“We would argue that what we need to see is a perfected connected car that is centered around the driving experience,” Cookson said. “The challenge is as these apps get more complex, how do we make sure drivers keep their eyes on the road? Companies are realizing that we need to do something different in the car — I think we’re going see some big changes as we move forward.”

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter @dropdeaded209_LR.


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