When your car pays for parking

When your car pays for parking

One of the many ways Škoda makes drivers’ day-to-day lives easier is the new Pay to Park service. It makes parking in cities a piece of cake.

12. 1. 2023 Škoda World

Park the car, find a parking meter, pay and walk back to your car with a ticket. This is still a fairly common way to park in cities today. You don’t get a refund if you leave before your time is up. And if you need to stay longer, you’ve no choice but to head back to the machine and pay for additional minutes or hours. At best, the driver has to keep an eye on a mobile app during his meeting. But Škoda has gone one better. The Pay to Park service is about to make parking hassle a thing of the past, at least for Škoda drivers.

Many countries, one app

How does it work? You park your car and launch Pay to Park on your infotainment system or MyŠkoda app, which displays a map showing your current location and nearby parking zones. You confirm the parking zone you’re in and select the desired prepayment period. Confirm, and off you go. Fifteen minutes before your prepaid period expires, you’ll receive a notification from the MyŠkoda app on your mobile phone that your prepaid period is about to end, with the option to extend it remotely. If, on the other hand, you leave early, you can terminate your parking and pay only for the time your car was actually there – that’s one of the unique functionalities this service offers.

Notably, Pay to Park lets you manage your parking in a number of European countries directly from the car’s infotainment system. “One of the key benefits is that the app provides consolidated information for a number of cities in a number of countries – it gets rid of the hassle of finding which app to download for which city, having to input your user, car and payment card details, and learning how to use it. Everything is unified and available directly in your car and in your MyŠkoda mobile app,” says Tomáš Dražil, the man behind the innovation.

AQ4A3545-copy_2313cbfe Tomáš Dražil
Škoda employee in charge of Pay to Park

The pilot phase took place in Switzerland, and now the service is also available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Norway. Eight more countries are soon to follow: France, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, with Škoda due to roll out the service in other European markets during 2023. The plan is to offer this payment method in more than ten thousand European cities.

More on the new Pay to Park service can be heard on the Simply Clever podcast:

A strong partner

The Pay to Park service works on the MyŠkoda app on your smartphone and through the current Amundsen and Columbus infotainment systems. The app is already available in the Fabia, Kamiq, Scala, Octavia, Karoq, Superb and Kodiaq model ranges. The Czech carmaker is currently working on adding it to the Enyaq iV model. You need an active Škoda Connect account and to have remote access to the car activated. Once the payment data is stored in the MyŠkoda app and the service is activated, it can also be used immediately in the infotainment system, and the driver can see which parking spaces they can pay for online. After arriving at the parking space, the parking period can be selected – and extended if necessary – using the app. Payment is made after the parking is completed.

You don’t need a different app for each city – MyŠkoda does it all.

“What was key was choosing a reliable external partner for the service to provide the necessary data and coverage in as many cities and countries as possible,” says Dražil. His team partnered with Parkopedia, which has contracts with local parking providers and aggregates all the data, including from smaller providers. It’s the largest parking data provider in Europe.

When in Rome…

Thanks to Parkopedia’s involvement, Pay to Park can assess different parking conditions in different cities. “When do you pay, how much and what does the payment cover? While one city may designate areas where only residents can park, that may not apply in a different city, where there may be restrictions on entering the city centre for certain types of cars,” Dražil says, listing some of the local variations. 

The service is already available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Norway, with another eight countries soon to follow.

There are also different ways to let people know that you’re using Pay to Park. “If you’re in Berlin, for example, you have to put a piece of paper behind your car window saying you’re using a digital parking service. Customers in Germany are used to this, but many foreigners would have no idea about it. That’s why we have in-app notifications to inform users about these kinds of differences. We also have to take into account the different rules for electric cars.”

Pay to Park definitely isn’t the last chapter in smart parking services. Tomáš Dražil has bold plans. “We are working on predictive parking. We would like to use the existing IT infrastructure to enable a car to advise its driver on the likelihood of finding a parking space in a given location at a given time. The times are changing. And we’re determined to change with them.”