Who owns connected-car data?

  18 November 2013

Wouldn’t it be great if the car, rather than the owner, could automatically tell you, the dealership, when it needs a service, or a replacement tyre, or just needs to be traded in for a new model?

Well, that’s exactly what will be possible in the very near future as so-called ‘connected cars’ increasingly have black boxes fitted. These not only monitor mileage and service data and location, but also have the ability to send that data back to base using the mobile phone network. Many already have these systems installed and, from October 2015, all newly developed cars will have to incorporate some of this in the eCall safety system.

But this raises the big question: who owns the data coming out of the car? Is it the driver, the car’s owner, the supplying retailer or the manufacturer?

As our news story reveals Jaguar Land Rover already has an answer to this – it’s theirs. JLR has worked up a legal contract that the car buyer signs if they want the enhanced package of connected services. And this contract gives JLR the data – and the right to sell the data.

I suspect other car makers are following the same thinking.The question is: who will they sell the information to and at what price. Will it be back to the franchised network? What if an insurance company wants the data? Or perhaps a contract hire firm?

And, while it may seem unlikely, what would a car maker do if an independent garage network asked to buy the data for a large amount of money? Whatever happens it seems that, as with every aspect of franchised retailing, the manufacturer will be the one trying to keep control.

 Tristan Young

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