• Wed. May 18th, 2022

Your connected car knows you. The battle for this data is stepping up a gear

ByElla E. Kidwell

Mar 14, 2022

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) – Where are you going? What you pass. Where you stop. What you listen. What you are looking at. Your good habits. Your bad habits.

Companies in Europe and beyond are vying for control of the crown jewels of the connected car era: your vehicle data.

The contest enters a pivotal phase as EU regulators seek to craft the world’s first laws for the balloon industry around web-connected vehicles, pitting automakers against a coalition of insurers, leasing companies and repair shops.

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European Commission sources have said the EU executive is expected to launch an industry consultation on in-vehicle data this week, which could lead to legislation later this year – the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Many companies see data as the gold of the new wired world, though for some it’s more like air or water.

“If you don’t have access to data in the future, you will end up being squeezed out,” says Tim Albertsen, CEO of ALD, the car leasing division of Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), which orders millions of vehicles.

“You won’t be efficient, you won’t have the right services, you just won’t be able to function at the end of the day.”

Automakers, keeping their gatekeeper role in accessing their vehicles’ data, have resisted specific regulations for in-vehicle data, saying consumer protection is paramount.

“The European automotive industry is committed to providing access to data generated by the vehicles it produces,” said a spokesperson for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). “However, uncontrolled access to in-vehicle data poses major threats to security, (cyber)security, data protection and privacy.”

Yet companies aligned against them say limiting or charging what they deem unfair for access to in-vehicle data could kill competition for automakers who already operate their own leasing companies, car subscription services and repair shops. repair.

In some cases, they say automakers are already restricting access to vehicle data and charging independent repair shops more for access.

“Manufacturers are in direct contact with the vehicle, so they get all the data,” says Sylvia Gotzen, CEO of the International Federation of Automotive Aftermarket Distributors, or FIGIEFA, which is part of a broader alliance of repair shops and parts manufacturers which employs 3.5 million people in Europe.

“They get the full buffet and all we get are crumbs.”

MANUFACTURERS: WE SHARE DATA

Automakers have big plans for data.

For example, Stellantis (STLA.MI), the world’s 4th largest automaker, expects to generate 20 billion euros ($22.4 billion) per year by 2030 from software products and subscription services. The deals are also central to General Motors’ (GM.N) plan to double annual revenue to around $280 billion. Read more

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) said data is becoming the “key source of value creation and innovation”, adding that customers have “full control of it”, citing vehicle safety and customer sovereignty as its main objectives.

BMW rejected suggestions that it was withholding data.

The German company said it can share almost 100 data points with third parties if drivers request it and could make more available if companies prove a real business need for them and a willingness to take responsibility for the cybersecurity risks. Automotive supplier groups like FIGIEFA say automakers can access thousands of data points.

A BMW spokesperson said the automaker would like all parties to sit down with a mediator such as the European Commission and come up with a list of data points acceptable to all.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told reporters on Friday that the automaker has aggregated data, which costs money and therefore needs to be paid for it. He cited, as an example, the data Stellantis sells to cities to measure how often anti-lock braking systems are engaged at intersections and gauge which ones are the most dangerous.

“It’s not just about collecting the data, it’s also about processing the data in a way that’s going to create value for someone who’s willing to pay for it,” Tavares said.

“DATA IS ABSOLUTELY KEY”

Yet other companies in the automotive ecosystem, such as ALD, say they want the European Union to ensure a level playing field

ALD, in the process of taking over Dutch competitor LeasePlan to give it a combined fleet of 3.5 million vehicles, has a car-sharing platform that needs to run diagnostics, read odometers, check fuel gauges and change car between users. Read more

It also offers an insurance product that lowers your premium based on good driving behavior – by monitoring how you accelerate and brake.

“Access to data is absolutely essential for us to deliver the services we offer today,” said CEO Albertsen.

To extract data from the car, ALD plugs a wireless “dongle” into the vehicle which transmits information to an in-house developed platform that it pays US startup Vinli to operate. Automakers running similar services get that data directly, which puts ALD at a competitive disadvantage, Albertsen said.

Stellantis, for example, offers car sharing and rental through its Free2Move unit. Volkswagen could take over rental company Europcar (EUCAR.PA) to take advantage of car-sharing and subscription services. Read more

And most major automakers have their own leasing units, such as BMW’s Alphabet and Mercedes-Benz’s Athlon (MBGn.DE).

ALD’s Albertsen said major fleet customers are willing to pay for data, but he wants regulations to ensure ALD’s car-sharing unit pays the same amount as, say, Stellantis charges its own Free2Move division.

RISKS FOR REPAIR WORKSHOPS

Insurers and car repair shops say it is essential the EU lets drivers choose who accesses their vehicle data.

“There is a need to regulate this, because you cannot leave this in the hands of car manufacturers,” said Nicolas Jeanmart, head of personal and general insurance at industry group Insurance Europe. “It should be up to each driver to decide what they want to do with their data.”

FIGIEFA’s Gotzen said it would allow car owners to link their favorite repair shop to their car and have them run diagnostics remotely if they have any car problems, instead of relying solely on manufacturer recommendations. .

“It’s all technically possible now, but we’re hampered because car manufacturers are stopping us from doing it,” she said.

She said FIGIEFA members are willing to adopt automakers’ cybersecurity processes and requirements, but the added cybersecurity could be used as an excuse for automakers to restrict access.

Richard Knubben, deputy chief executive of Leaseurope, which represents Europe’s car leasing and rental companies, said the longer the EU takes to legislate on car data, the more independent repair shops risk closing their doors because they did not have access to it.

“By the time we have legislation, we may already be stuck with an imbalance that we can no longer correct,” Knubben said.

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Reporting by Nick Carey; Additional reporting by Victoria Waldersee in Berlin, Gilles Guillaume in Paris, Carolyn Cohn and Huw Jones in London; Assembly Pravin Char

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