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Flying Cars, Driverless Cars And The Rise Of Electric Vehicles – What Does This Mean For Property? 

By Rachel Wallace

While I can’t quite imagine arriving at work in a flying car in my lifetime, it may in fact be a reality in the not so distant future. There are currently hundreds of companies working on flying cars, or the less catchy term eVTOLs (electric vertical take off and landing). In the past 12 months alone, five startups have gone public. The technology has moved so quickly that getting a vehicle flying is no longer seen as particularly challenging. The biggest challenge is now a real estate one, more specifically, finding the space to take off and land. The automotive industry is evolving quickly from the standard model of petrol powered vehicles we have become so used to. With the emergence of flying cars, driverless vehicles and growth in use of electric cars, what are the implications for residential and commercial property? The impacts range from those that are already currently in play such as the rise of electric vehicle plug-ins to those that may never happen such as the demise of the garage.

1. More electric vehicle plug-ins

Australia still has relatively few electric cars, only accounting for two per cent of the total number of cars on the road. Even though a relatively small proportion, it is growing and over the coming years is expected to get closer to the global average of nine per cent. With so many more electric vehicles on the road, we will see more electric vehicle (EV) plug-ins.

Right now, Australia has 3,000 EV plug-ins with more than a third located in NSW. The recently elected Labor Party has committed $500 million to help grow the update of electric vehicles and this includes building an EV plug in network, with stations located at an average interval of 150 kilometres on major roads

2. Green mineral demand

Electric vehicles do not run on petrol but do require six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car. Minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel are three such minerals that are going to see exponential growth in demand as we switch from petrol to electricity. Given Australia is so rich in these minerals, it will mean boom conditions for areas where these are mined.

3. The emergence of vertiports

One of the biggest challenges right now for flying cars is working out where they could potentially land and take off. Although they don’t take up space on the road, they do require a space larger than a single car park in which to land. Given that the use of flying cars is likely to be more popular in cities where land is sparse makes it an ever greater challenge. For now, the most obvious solution is to use existing helicopter landing areas however longer term, if flying cars do become a more commonplace form of transport.

4. The demise of the garage

Driverless cars still seem a long way away, as do flying vehicles. If we did make a switch away from traditional vehicles, would we still need garages? What about multi level car parks? Would our driverless car live with us? Or could it drop us home and then park itself somewhere else. While it is hard to envisage exactly how changes to the automotive industry will impact our roads and where cars park, there are some major changes that could occur.

5. More demand for industrial property

Industrial property has been the investor favourite for many years now but it is also the property type that will most benefit from technological changes, including the rise of new vehicle types. Most industrial property in Australia is warehousing. With driverless cars, it is likely that cars will be stored, cleaned and repaired in warehouses, as opposed to car parks.

6. EV plug-in stations to replace petrol stations

We are still a very long way from not requiring petrol stations but over time, we will see greater demand for EV charging stations and less demand for fuel pumps. The petrol stations of now are likely to include more EV plug-ins while shopping centres and car parks are likely to also include them. Higher values for commercial real estate with the ability to recharge electric vehicles quickly is likely.

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