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4 Reasons Why Autonomous Parking Systems May Be Worth the Extra Cash

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.


Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps
Russ Heaps is an author specializing in automotive, financial and travel news. For nearly 35 years he has covered the automotive industry for newspapers, magazines and internet websites. His resume includes The Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, The Washington Times and numerous other daily newspapers through syndication. He edited Auto World magazine, and helped create and edit NOPI Street... Read More about Russ Heaps

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