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“Demand for off-street parking is about to explode, and we can thank EVs”

As EVs grow in popularity, Mike Rutherford thinks drivers without an off-street space would be wise to search for bays they can buy

Opinion - off-road parking

If you’ve got a few thousand to invest in 2019, my humble advice would be to avoid risky territories such as the premium classic car game, racehorse ownership and the Bitcoin nonsense.

Instead, play safe. Put some money into parking bays, single or blocks of garages, plus any slices of urban land where it’s legal, safe and convenient to park. Oh, and make sure there’s a legitimate power supply on site or nearby, ready to be cabled in.

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Demand for such off-street spaces is, I predict, about to explode. And for this we can largely thank/blame the pure-electric car. Here’s why.

First, 100 per cent electrics are mostly used and housed in and around town, and tend to be driven less than conventional cars. This means they’re parked up for longer. And that’s great news for local authorities, who are increasingly scrapping their circa 8am-6pm parking operations and instead forcing vehicle users to endure something closer to 24/7 payment regimes. Greedy, that.

Second, the on-paper, near-unchallenged assumption is that the electric/autonomous/ride-hailing revolution will persuade us to hire cars for short periods only when we need them. In turn, the theory goes, each of us will then be able and willing to ditch the private family car for ‘public’ versions.I don’t buy into this.

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‘Car-sharing’ is not something I (and millions of others) will go for. Unless we exploit their occasional special offers, we already have bitter experience of vehicle rental organisations who can be prohibitively expensive and horribly inflexible. Besides, the blunt truth is that many things wearing a ‘public’ tag are never preferable to their privately owned alternatives. Think about the public loo vs the private loo. I rest my case.

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Third, more auto manufacturers than you realise are actively spotting and exploiting opportunities to sell two cars (one petrol or diesel, the other pure electric) to couples or families that traditionally had one. Why not? It’s their job to sell as many cars as possible. With this in mind, what’s not to like about a £30k electric Hyundai Kona for Monday-Friday urban commutes, paired with a £30k petrol Kia Stinger for the open road at weekends?

If you live in a house with parking, great. You invested wisely. But millions of drivers in Britain don’t have their own parking facilities. Yet they’d be wise to search long and hard for local, leasehold (or freehold preferably) parking bays or garages they can buy, own and use, for parking and (subject to adequate power supplies) recharging purposes.

Eventually, such property assets are likely to appreciate in value. The icing on the cake is that by-the-hour parking fees paid to car park operators and local councils will be history.

Also – and this is crucially important – you’ll protect yourself, and then some, against future possible UK laws. In Japan, for example, a consumer can’t buy a car until they can prove they have their own parking bay. Don’t be surprised if the existing or incoming car-and-motorist-loathing British Government adopts the same legislation here. The time to protect yourself against this is now – while you still have the time and opportunity.

Do you think investing in off-street parking is a good idea? Let us know your thoughts below...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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