Traditionally in Real-Estate developments, the cost of building conventional parking goes by “cost-per-space” measure, which is derived from summing all parking structure building costs and dividing it by the parking capacity (number of spaces). Naturally, a developer or architect exploring an automated parking system for their project will ask the vendor “how much per space”?

In Automated Parking this is a tricky question to answer since it has to consider the System Performance or how many cars the system can process in a given time frame.

Consider the following scenarios:

Two automated parking systems with a 300 spaces capacity are built. The structure cost in each of them is identical- let’s assume $3MM.

System A has a performance level of 100 cars/hour, while system B has a performance level of 200 cars/hour.

To achieve a higher performance level, system B will have more system components (lifts, shuttles, etc.) than system A.
Let’s assume the equipment cost for system A is $4MM and for system B it is $7MM.

In total, System A will cost $7MM and system B will cost $10MM.

If divided by the capacity (which is 300 spaces for each), system A will cost $23,333 per-space while System B will cost $33,333 per-space.

Doesn’t conventional parking require the same rule?

At this point you will probably ask yourself “how come performance is not a factor in conventional parking”? The reality is that performance should and does matter for conventional parking. The difference is that in conventional parking, the “system performance” is how long it takes drivers to get to their cars (elevator/stairs), drive it down the ramp and leave through the gate.

Scenarios of automated parking system cost structure

The difference between conventional and automated parking cost

In a sense, in conventional parking, the driver “pays” the cost of the performance level by physically getting to the car and driving it out, while in automated parking system there is an equipment cost to provide the adequate performance level.

There are other considerations when comparing automated parking and conventional parking costs, such as revenue generation from saved space and ongoing operational costs savings which contribute to a faster ROI with automated parking systems, which we will touch on in future articles, but for now, when asking “how much per space?” also add “and what is the associated performance level?

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