Connected vehicle data is ‘the new fleet currency’

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A debate over who owns data produced by connected cars has highlighted its potential value to vehicle finance companies, manufacturers and operators.

Connected cars, which are fitted with sophisticated telematics that wirelessly links vehicles to the internet, are able to transmit a vast amount of data about vehicle performance and use, in addition to receiving over-the-air updates in some cases.

A common use for data is to proactively highlight to drivers and owners any vehicle issues to avoid breakdowns or automatically share the vehicle’s location with a service company when help is required, but there is a vast range of additional commercial uses.

As the value of the data becomes clear, the debate over ownership is becoming more intense.

The manufacturers of connected cars have been arguing against allowing third-parties direct access to vehicle systems. Instead many suggest providing access to a limited range of information through third-party servers, potentially for a fee.

However, attitudes to data ownership differ between industry sectors.

In the UK, the latest British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association Fleet Technology Survey, asked its members and fleet managers “who should control access to vehicle data”.

Among BVRLA members, 62% said the lease company. By contrast, among fleets, 57% said the fleet manager.

A similar split was present when the BVRLA asked “who should control access to personal data”.

Around 70% of BVRLA members and fleet managers believe that vehicle manufacturers have an obligation to provide vehicle data, with 86% saying that they should not have to pay for it.

Revealing the results at the annual BVRLA Fleet Technology Congress, association chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “Connected vehicle data is rapidly becoming the new currency of the fleet sector and will drive many business models in future.

“This is a new, unregulated environment which explains much of the uncertainty and concern about the roles and responsibilities played by different fleet sector participants.

“Our responsibility is clear. The BVRLA will play a lead role in helping the fleet sector work with government and the wider automotive supply chain to ensure that all parties share data in an open, secure and fair way.

“By doing this, we can make sure that businesses and consumers continue to enjoy a competitive choice of suppliers for fleet management, aftermarket and mobility services.”

The future picture of data ownership is further complicated by the role of drivers.

When asked for their views on sharing data in the survey, drivers were overwhelmingly happy to do so if it helped to diagnose or prevent faults (95%), automatically alert a breakdown company (93%) or help a manufacturer identify safety and warranty issues with its parts (82%).

However, they were much less supportive of the idea of sharing data about their driving behaviour and performance, with 44% ‘not comfortable’ with the concept. They were also resistant to companies selling data about their location, local weather conditions or vehicle performance (36% ‘not comfortable’).

The survey also revealed that less than half of members and fleet managers were clear about what data manufacturers are collecting from connected cars.

Click here for a summary of survey results.

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bvrla fleet technology surv