Japan’s IHI Corporation, which packs cars into automated towers to save space, is planning to expand into the vast Chinese market, created as land prices soar and car ownership rises by 20 million vehicles a year.
The first project has begun in Qingdao, where IHI has launched a joint venture with China’s state-owned Huatong Group. In the future, IHI foresees demand for 1 million additional parking spots each year as China’s per capital GDP continues to increase.
The aim is to build a system that stack cars on top of each other several layers deep, then rotates the layers to accept or release their vehicles. Â
IHI has developed algorithms to calculate how vehicles must be moved and stored for the most efficient retrieval, and car owners can operate the system using a touchscreen panel.
The global market for autonomous parking systems is expected to grow at a compound rate of 11% over the next five years.
One hotspot for the market will be China’s city centres, where parking spaces are at a premium and illegal parking has become a problem.
Chinese firms also build the structures, but lack Japan’s experience in design, fabrication and maintenance.
The population of Japan is roughly twice that of the UK, but the country has less than half as much useable land, making it problematic to find space for cars.
IHI, which has built more than 8,000 car towers and holds 40% share of Japan’s automated parking lot market, has found a number of ways to reduce their footprint, from simple two-storey steel-frame structures to towers.
Image: An underground parking system