Of the effective technologies people aren’t willing to pay extra for, autonomous parking is high on the list — at least, that’s the finding of a recent survey by AAA. Self-parking systems do a better job than most drivers do when parallel parking, yet most people aren’t willing to pony up the extra cash that this technology adds to a vehicle’s bottom-line price.
No question, technology costs money. Some government-mandated safety technology is forced upon us and baked into the standard equipment of today’s cars and trucks. Airbags, seat belts and anti-lock brakes are such technologies, but there are lots of others that automakers make available either in trim upgrades, options packages or as stand-alone options.
Although vehicle buyers often don’t bat an eye at paying extra for navigation systems, surround-sound audio systems and Bluetooth connectivity, they stubbornly avoid self-parking systems offered on a growing number of models, such as the Lincoln MKC, Cadillac CTS and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.
What Is Autonomous Parking?
Although today’s self-parking systems require some driver input (regulating the car’s speed by operating the brake pedal, for example), they do all the maneuvering needed to situate the car into a curbside parking spot. Besides doing a little braking, the driver’s only other responsibility is placing his car next to the car parked in front of the empty parking space before engaging the self-parking system.
What Does It Cost?
No doubt, price has a lot to do with the lack of popularity of self-parking systems. Although typically only premium or luxury brands offer them, these systems usually are only included in a vehicle’s highest-priced trim levels or as one feature in an expensive options package. Including autonomous parking on a 2016 Lincoln MKC, for example, adds nearly $9,500 to its base price.
Why Is It Better?
AAA discovered four key areas where self-parking systems outperformed drivers, even when assisted by backup cameras during parallel parking:
- Fewer curb strikes. Self-parking systems clip the curb 81 percent less often than drivers.
- Fewer separate maneuvers. Self-parking systems need about 50 percent fewer turns of the steering wheel than drivers, sometimes needing only one maneuver.
- Faster. On average, self-parking systems are 10 percent quicker at parking.
- More accurate. Self-parking systems place the vehicle 37 percent closer to the curb.
What it means to you: Many drivers may go a year or more without the need to parallel park. City dwellers, however, might face parallel-parking situations multiple times every day. Only you can put a price on whatever stress a self-parking system might eliminate. The one fact we’re sure of is that self-parking systems are more accurate and make parallel parking easier.