An almighty row has broken out over who should have access to all the data that new technology functioned cars generate. The manufacturers want control however, independent repair shops, fleet operators, insurance companies and just anyone else who could benefit from seeing data from your drive argue that this could be blatantly anti-competitive.
But what difference does this mean to us? Well to start off with it could mean that car servicing costs become more expensive and you may have to pay more for other services that rely on such data, from independent repair centres to ‘pay as you drive’ insurance companies.
Modern cars are effectively computers on wheels, full of sensors measuring everything from the wear and tear on your brake pads to your fuel efficiency. They can communicate wirelessly with manufacturers, traffic management systems, and other vehicles in real time. So, your car’s manufacturer will know where you’ve been, how fast you drove, and how soon you’re likely to need a service and it wants to turn this knowledge in to money.
For example, if your cars on board sensors detect that a certain part is about to fail, the manufacturer will have wireless access to that data and can immediately book you in for an appointment to get it fixed. This sounds great! However, by doing it this way you won’t necessarily get the best price for your repair, you may have to travel far to get to your manufacturer’s garage and small independent repair business are bound to lose out on customers.
“While the manufacturer is monitoring the car, it has the power to recommend its own spare parts. This is a privileged position and would distort the market,” says Neil Pattemore, technical director at FIGIEFA, the European association representing car parts retailers and repair shops. “We exist to offer consumers choice – it’s about freedom of where you want to get your car repaired.”
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) is arguing that car makers should be allowed to send all this “in-vehicle” data to their own cloud platforms and control who has access to it and under what terms. Allowing “direct third-party access to vehicular electronic systems would jeopardise safety, (cyber)security and vehicle integrity”, it argues.
Manufacturers say they’re worried about hackers taking control of a car’s electronic systems, as has been shown to be possible on several occasions.