SOLAR-POWERED CAR CONDOS COMING
Home owners step aside. Here's the new growth area for real estate
-- car condos.
In Boston, car condos started selling in 1979 at the Brimmer Street
Garage. For a mere $7,500 each. Today, they fetch $130,000! In
Brooklyn Park's Slope Garage condos sold two years ago for $17,000
now go for $39,000.
Depending on the deal, down payments run from 25 to 40 percent with
balances running over 10 to 20 years at interest rates around 10-12
Price depends on location. Sometimes buying, even without considering
appreciation, is a bargain compared to renting on a monthly basis,
while other locations run slightly more than rent.
In Canada no one has yet started marketing car condos. However,
merchant banker and founder of Century 21 Real Estate Canada Ltd.
Peter Thomas says, "With a car condo not only do you secure yourself
a place to park, but also to participate in the appreciation of prime
downtown real estate".
When I mentioned five years ago that car condos in Tokyo were selling
for $250,000, people laughed (they rent for minimum of US $1,700 a
month). When Boston car condos jumped from $7,500 to $130,000 people
listened. Now in California, where electrically-powered cars are
about to hit the road in sizeable numbers, can solar-powered car
condos be far behind?
This is not the idea of some advanced-thinking entrepreneur like
Peter Thomas. This concept is coming from Southern California Edison
Company, one of the largest electrical producers in America. Shown
here is the artistic version of Socal's solar-powered carport with
emission-free charging when parked during the day.
Conventional thinking about electrical cars up to this point has been
considering that the main recharging would take place while cars were
back home in their suburban garages. The new thinking is that perhaps
cars can be better charged, with less damage to the environment, when
parked, usually for from six to eight hours, in an urban parking
location. Now charging can take place at both locations. Those
Suburbanites can charge up supplementary battery packs during the
day, when the car is downtown and this stored energy can then be used
to "top-up" a vehicle battery when it is parked alongside the house
at night or when the weather has been overcast during the day.
With certainly a few thousand, and potentially hundreds of thousands
(projections say 200,000 by year 2,000) of electrically-powered cars
starting to appear on the streets of the largest city in the U.S.,
Southern California Edison want to be ready. Why? Because in a few
years both car manufacturers and public utility companies will be
obliged to produce a simple method to recharge electric vehicles.
Once prices come down -- and environmental extra taxes are added on
to old gasoline-powered cars -- the change-over could be dramatic.
In a related project, Edison and the Los Angeles Department of Water
and Power are cooperating to bring 10,000 electric vehicles to city
streets by 1995.
This has created a partnership between Socal-Edison and the South
Coast Air Quality Management District to produce a pollution-free
recharging unit. The result: a carport with solar power!
Nick W. Patapoff, Senior Research Engineer at Socal Edison says the
roof of the 3,000 sq. ft. solar carport would have photovoltaic solar
panels to recharge the cars during the day. On rainy or dull days,
power would be drawn from the regular power grid. Texas Instruments
Inc. are working with the California utility to provide the panels.
Although expensive at the moment, solar panel prices have been
dropping slowly over the last decade. When these three heavies get
together on this project, breakthroughs may make solar power competitive with more conventional recharging alternatives. The flat, southfacing photovoltaic panels would be tilted 19 degrees from the horizontal at most Socal locations.
If things work out as expected Socal will have the first prototype
fully functional early this year and eventually would construct car
condos in public parking areas throughout their service area. "Park
and Charge" will take on new meaning. Ubiquitous California credit
cards would handle the toll.
Keep watching. This is a product whose time has come.
Southern California Edison,
South Coast Air Quality Management District,
Bill Kelly, AQMD,
21865 Copley Drive,
Diamond Bar, CA 91765.
* * *
chapter index |
back to Main Chapter Listing
back to Home Page