Taking your car off the road and into your home
By Charlie Lancaster
In its most basic form the concept of parking your car in your living room already exists in Cambodia. CarLoft has higher ambitions. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, the German-based company envisions Southeast Asians driving their cars into living rooms in sky-rise apartments.
Much to the delight of auto and architecture enthusiasts, revolutionary CarLoft debuted in Berlin in 2008. Presenting an innovative way to solve parking problems and personal safety concerns in crowded urban spaces, the company unveiled an apartment block that takes you and your car right into your home – no matter what floor you live on.
It is a welcome concept for those who live in dodgy neighbourhoods where parking on the street means running the risk of never seeing your vehicle again – at least not in one piece. But with prices starting from $500,000, these lofts aren’t likely to attract your average Skoda owner. Wannabe glitteratis that can’t take their eyes off their prized Ferrari, on the other hand, may want to take note.
CarLoft works like this: you drive your car into the CarLift, a modified industrial elevator, which recognises the car and automatically takes you to the correct floor in about two-and-a-half minutes. Once you’ve arrived at your destination you drive straight into the CarLoggia, a terrace-level parking space with protective glass walls that doubles up as a showroom. You get out of your vehicle, grab your shopping bags or golf clubs, et voila – you and your trophy car are safe at home.
Integrating your car into your private life may never have been easier and now CarLoft, through Hong Kong-based real estate company Antorum International, is training its eyes on Southeast Asia.
“The region’s growth economies are producing growing affluent middle and upper classes that are looking for a little bit more for their cars and from their homes,” said Rudolf Beger of Antorum, which is currently looking at property prospects in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
As growth swells and cars sell in Southeast Asia, the space for urban parking shrinks. In the first ten months of 2012, nearly 7,385,000 vehicles were registered in Thailand, surpassing the total for 2011 by 7.8% and grinding Bangkok to a near standstill.
“The increasing motorisation of countries in Southeast Asia demands a conversation about parking issues, as well as security solutions, as the number of luxury car owners swells,” Beger said, adding that car safety is increasingly becoming an issue in Malaysia, reportedly the second-cheapest country in the region to own a vehicle thanks in part to subsidised fuel prices and cheaper road taxes.
CarLoft does not plan to design structures within the region, but rather provide conceptual and technical know-how.
“The local developers who know their markets and target groups will design the buildings in close cooperation with CarLoft, using CarLoft’s technical knowledge under a licence agreement,” Berger said, adding that talks with established retail and hotel operators in the region are at a “stage of maturity”.