07 Apr 2020
As technology in cars becomes ever more sophisticated and more connected cars are driven on our roads, the amount of data they produce is immense. Driving behaviours which can inform offers, highly accurate service alerts and the car ‘diagnosing’ its own faults and communicating directly with the dealer or manufacturer, the possibilities are endless...
Data is a goldmine. Companies like Google and Amazon have made their fortunes on harvesting it and acting on its insights, and car data is set to be just as powerful. However, just how and who manages the data and the level of access is another question. What’s certain is that manufacturers recognise just how valuable the data will be for long term sustainability and there are already signs OEMs are becoming more forthright in managing the relationship direct with the customer.
Whilst a battle may well ensue between OEMs and their franchised partners over ‘ownership’ of the customer, manufacturers will still entice their customers back into their networks, but without access to data it leaves the independent sector at a disadvantage.
Data from the connected vehicle is already on the EU’s agenda and with the UK exiting the bloc, it is likely car manufacturers will maintain the same standards in the UK as in the EU. Different options concerning car data are laid out in an EU study, with our briefer explanation below.
Proposed by the automotive industry’s European body, ACEA, all car data would be collected exclusively on data servers operated by the OEM giving them a monopoly on data for cars from their brand. Other repairers would have to purchase the data on OEMs’ terms.
The preferred option of the OEMs and links to the ‘Extended Vehicle’ scenario outlined above. Data is retrieved from the car via a dedicated hardware-locked SIM-card for storage and processing on a server controlled by the OEM. A third-party could operate the server such as IBM BlueMix and Microsoft Azure cloud service. With no unauthorised access allowed, OEMs argue it meets their security concerns and as such they would be willing to assume liability for vehicle security and third-party services applications. Inevitably, others think this model is favoured by OEMs as a means to limit access to data rather than delivering protection.
An EU working group has proposed alternatives such as for the OEM to transfer all car data to a Neutral Server controlled by a third party. The neutral server operator would oversee data distribution to service providers who request access. Although OEMs would have no control over suppliers accessing the data, this model is still dependent on the OEM controlling the data flow although it could be directed straight from the car to the neutral server. Whilst it takes away OEM leverage, it puts the data providers in pole position to monetise the data.
Other options include creating an ISO standard for data transference since it relies on the adoption of standardised protocols from all third parties. Meanwhile, data could be accessed using media platforms particularly as familiar names such as Google and Apple are now established in the automotive car infotainment systems market. Operators such as Apple iOS and Google Android are already offering cloud-base data storage to synchronise media use across consumer devices and there’s no reason why this can’t be extended to cars via the motorist’s smartphone.
This would see the OEM install a completely independent operating system inside the car, which could be retro-fitted and operated by a third party although it would still require OEM approval as the safety of system would still be their responsibility.
EU Block Exemption Regulations, which determine the way manufacturers sell new cars through dealers and make parts and technical information available to independents, are due to be updated for distribution by 2022 and the aftermarket in 2023. Connectivity with its implications of increased data and how that data is shared with independent repairers will be on the agenda as part of the BER discussions.