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Ten million Driverless Cars by 2020? If So, How Should Landlords Prepare Their Building?

July 05, 2016

Will Driverless Cars Save The Suburbs?

Driverless cars are set to take the streets in the 2020s – ten million by 2020 by one leading estimate; so if autonomous is taking over starting with the next CRE cycle, how should landlords respond?

We all know that self-driving cars are coming, in fact, most experts believe the technology is closer to commercialization and mass-adoption will be far more rapid than most people believe. Here is a compact primer on the subject (courtesy of Encompass Real Estate Strategy), and Encompass four top impacts on/opportunities for the commercial real estate industry.


The NHTSA has proposed the following classification system for autonomous cars:
LEVEL 0 No automation
LEVEL 1 Automation of at least one function
LEVEL 2 Coordinated automation of two or more functions LEVEL 3 Full automation in certain conditions
LEVEL 4 Full automation in all legal driving situations


1. Many cars sold today have the ability to be level 1 or 2, some Tesla models sold today are Level 3-ready
2. Level 4 cars are expected to be on sale in 2020; Tesla announced it may sell a Level 4-ready model by 2018
3. While all jurisdictions will likely more toward permission of fully-automated operation, not all areas will allow at first
4. Level 4 cars expected to rapidly take over share in 2020s

Okay, here are some thoughts on the impact …

Tighter spaces:

Level 4 cars park themselves, they don’t need nearly the space for error as humans do, and don’t need space for passengers to exit from the sides. As landlords’ see their tenants’ workers go increasingly autonomous, it may make sense to proactively create areas or structures to more efficiently offer car storage than the traditional 150 space per acre parking lot.

Fewer spaces, period

The autonomous revolution may quickly lead to a car-share model. This could rapidly change industry parking ratios –freeing land, in some cases, for more development!

Also in the Core

he trend may also drop already-lower car usage in dense areas, such as the core and Cambridge. What to do with this found space? Encompass may have some ideas -

Good News For The ‘Burbs!

Autonomous stands to address some of the biggest challenges facing suburban landlords – the stress of driving will gave way to more productive time while the cost obstacle workers face could be mitigated by expected car-share models.