Condo Developers Attract Buyers with EV Car Sharing

February 5, 2020

The sharing economy is slowly changing cultural thinking. More and more people prefer to use ride share services like Uber or Lyft instead of owning a vehicle.

We pay for use, not ownership.

Fast forward several years. Booking use of a vehicle will become the norm, driving up vehicle utilization and driving down the number of vehicles on the road and taking up parking spaces. No longer are we expanding roads and fewer parking structures will be built. This change in thinking along with the advancements in electric and autonomous vehicles are opening up a multitude of opportunities for many different industries from livery services to subscription services to condo developers. Electric vehicle car sharing programs will change the nature of mobility.

EV Car Sharing for Real Estate Developers

In large cities like Chicago, Seattle, LA and New York, where condominiums and high-rise apartments are the home of choice for millions of residents, real estate developers are looking for ways to make their development more attractive to residents. One way to accomplish this is launching an EV car share program for residents.

These programs provide electric vehicles to residents as needed and provide cost savings to both the residents and the condo developers. The resident is only paying for their actual use (vehicles are highly underutilized assets) and the condo developers can reduce the amount of space and maintenance needed for parking structures. Of course, the future of EV car sharing depends greatly on resident buy-in. Real estate developers looking to maximize capacity will market the EV car share program as a premium amenity. Someday it will be a forgone conclusion like seatbelts and airbags.

EVs stand out from traditional gas-powered vehicles and offer a more environmentally conscious and sustainable mobility solutions in phase with corporate sustainability values. In private car share programs, charging stations ensure the vehicles are powered up and ready to go for the residents.

The Cost Savings from a Closed Car Share Program

Parking structures take up valuable space and are expensive to build and maintain. As a general rule, in a traditional condo where each unit has their own vehicles, two parking spaces are needed for every one-bedroom condo and three parking spaces are needed for every two-bedroom condo. Each space can cost $50,000 to $100,000 to build. One floor of a parking structure can cost two to three million dollars to build and much of that cost is passed on to residents as maintenance fees. Car share programs reduce the number of vehicles needed by the residents and therefore reduce the required size of the parking structures. With smaller parking structures, developers can realize significant cost savings. The cost savings pays for the fleet of EVs for the closed car share program.  

Participants in EV car sharing programs experience even further savings because they no longer need to own a vehicle (or second/third vehicle) in the first place. The cost to participate in an EV car share program is about 1/3 of the total cost to own a vehicle. This challenges the traditional model of “one driver, one car”.

Vista Tower, a brand new 101 story development in Lakeshore East in Chicago is the first luxury development in Chicago to offer a closed car sharing program. Residents schedule the use of the vehicles through an app and access the Teslas in the tower’s parking garage. Life in Chicago, like most major metro centers, rarely requires a vehicle. Residents have access to a high-end EV and help to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Barriers

As good as these programs are, there are still things that need to change in order for them to work. Americans especially are notorious for enjoying the freedom of having their own vehicles and they can be slow to make a serious change. The sharing economy will affect daily lives and lifestyle. Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have certainly helped to change this thinking.

Look to the Future

Despite the obstacles facing EV car share programs, it is clear that electric vehicles and sharing programs are the way of the future. It is simply more sustainable and cost-effective solution in urban areas. EV car share programs align with corporate sustainability values and a changing set of societal values.