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The Impact of Autonomous Cars on Real Estate

The Impact of Autonomous Cars on Real Estate by George Grace

Deloitte, the accounting and consulting firm, recently gave a presentation on the impact of autonomous or self-driving cars on the automobile industry, the transportation industry, and infrastructure. In order for this innovation to become commonplace, it will have to be perfected and passed through a regulatory system. Ultimately, the technology will influence real estate decisions and markets as well. 

But how will we get from where we are today to autonomously driven vehicles? How is it going to work when there is a mix of people driving vehicles and people being driven by autonomous vehicles? 

Here are some of the disruptions that are likely to occur: 

  • There will be more sharing of automobiles and sharing of ownership.
  • A self-driving car can be very convenient because it can drive one person to a train station, drop them off, and pick up someone else at the station.
  • The new technology will displace people that are in roles that are no longer needed, including taxi drivers.
  • It will transform the way cars are made. Autonomous vehicles are not necessarily going to be made in the same factory and in the same manner as traditional vehicles.

Many people will still own their own cars, whether they are self-driving or not, and there will always be car enthusiasts that enjoy the driving experience. But the culture is already shifting, and the whole idea of having a personal car has already become a non-issue for many people. Rather than having their own car, they simply share or borrow cars when they need them. 

How do you think the disruptive new technology of autonomous driving will influence where you live and work? Would you live in the city? Would you live in the suburbs? Would you live farther out? 

Most people would agree that an hour and a half is about as long as any commute should be. Self-driving cars have the potential to change the whole dynamics of how we commute and how we travel. In terms of commercial and residential real estate, there is likely to be more focus on urban areas. San Francisco is an example of how more people are living in urban areas and commuting to the suburbs, where commercial real estate is less expensive. 

“Ex-urban” areas (areas farther from a city than the suburbs) are also poised to fare well with the advent of better, cheaper autonomous cars because people can work—or enjoy the ride—while they are commuting to their destinations. 

When I was listening to the Deloitte presentation, I began to wonder what the impact on real estate will be. There is no right or wrong answer to this. We are trying to predict the future. How will autonomous cars impact your thinking about your life and your work?

George Grace

George E. Grace
G.E. Grace & Company, Inc.
232 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016