There are at least a half-dozen public parking lots near the Moulin Rouge, and entering the wrong one – as this journalist recently did – means the beginning of an odyssey.
The wrong parking garage means a drive through poorly lit caverns in search of a vacant space, inconvenient payment systems and, of course, the almost certainty that an EV can’t be charged.
Interparking is different. Its facilities are well lighted with clearly marked directional arrows, and red/green LEDs to indicate available spaces that can be seen without driving down a lane.
Faster, safer parking means less fuel consumed, less stress for drivers, and better business for parking operators.
With 52 car parks in France offering roughly 20,000 spaces, Interparking is not the biggest player. “Our specialty is the property car park,” says Interparking’s Managing Director Marc Grasset. “We look for long-term contracts – minimum 10 years – that can give us growth from a solid operation and justify the investment we will make.”
Grasset estimates Interparking’s market share in France to be somewhere between five and seven percent. “We study facilities, and when we see a good deal we go to the mayor, and we invest.”
That investment will be significant. In Nice, Interparking invested 14 million euros to build a facility they will operate for 30 years. A hospital parking garage in Paris was a million euro investment for just 350 spaces with four EV charging points. The Palais de Festival in Cannes with 1,000 spaces and 10 EV spots.
“We are the only carbon neutral parking company in France,” says Grasset. “Among the other sustainable aspects of parking, it’s important to show our support for EVs.”
With electricity at 11 cents per kilowatt hour in France, it costs no more than a couple of euros to fully charge a car, which few would do in a parking garage. Add the additional expense of RFID payment systems in charging poles, and EV parking in itself is not a business. But it is perhaps the most visible element of an otherwise green strategy.
Grasset says it’s possible to save 60 percent on consumption of electricity by doing three things. “First, you use low-cost emission lights – T5 with electronic ballast. Second, install motion detectors wherever possible. Third, add LED lights.”
LED lights have a three year payback time, says Grasset. “A regular fixture requires two 140-watt bulbs. An LED is 25 watts, plus no cost to change the bulbs for seven years.” Factor out personnel and electricity comprises roughly 30 percent of operating costs. One great reason to go green.
Sustainable parking is more than just savings for the operator. More and more, it’s a factor in winning the initial contract. In public tenders – by French law, cities select parking vendors – a full 10 percent of the decision is based on how green you are.
Why did Interparking select Ensto’s EV poles as the most visible element of its green strategy?
“Because of the relationship,” says Grasset. “So much can change in the parking business: politicians, governments, laws, regulations, tariffs. So a reliable partner is paramount.”
Key to that relationship is Ensto’s Jean Luc Mombreux, Managing Director of Ensto France SAS. Mombreux has been with the organization for 20 years and in Grasset’s eyes is one of Ensto’s strongest arguments for stability. “At Ensto competitors the employees can sometimes change every two years.”
With Ensto I make one phone call and get an answer,” says Grasset of that relationship. “You’re not routed into some bureaucratic mess.”
“Our competitors are huge ‘groups’,” says Mombreux. “But Ensto isn’t a group. It’s an international family company.”
Despite Interparking’s rather large size in Europe – 700 car parks across nine countries, 105 million euro EBITDA, and investment backing by CPPIB and AG Insurance – Grasset’s business philosophy is not about size. “We don’t want to be the biggest,” he smiles. “But maybe the most profitable.”
And the ticket to that is what Grasset terms durable development. “For that, we have an obligation to be green.”
Author: Scott Diel