What is at stake?
Free movement of data is crucial for economic growth, innovation and competitiveness. Access to real-time data is a decisive factor in business success – particularly in the automotive sector, where data availability and speed of access determine service quality. The EU must propose a policy framework for fair digitalisation opportunities that enables independent service providers to contribute to the growth potential of Europe’s digital data economy.
Over the next few years, the automotive sector is set to accelerate ‘connected car’ developments. Direct access to in-vehicle data has long been possible through an interoperable physical interface. But telematics platforms are increasingly designed to allow only vehicle manufacturers direct access to the vehicle’s live data. This will only provide independent service providers with indirect access to a pre-configured set of data, channelled through the manufacturer’s server. This restricts third party access to data and leads to manufacturers implementing their own rules on how and when independent operators access this data. Legally and as confirmed in the Commission’s Data Economy Communication, machine (i.e. vehicle/sensor) generated data is not owned by anybody.
Put simply, vehicle manufacturers do not own the data which they want to control.
What’s at stake for the automotive services industry?
If vehicle manufacturers become the de facto ‘owners’ of the technical data generated by the vehicle, this creates a major competitive disadvantage for all automotive service providers.
Today, competition for vehicle-related services starts in the vehicle, where the data quality and speed of access determine the service quality. With direct and real-time access to this data, the aftermarket will continue to be a force for diverse innovation, entrepreneurship and consumer choice. It will also continue to be an environment where businesses can develop and trade their enriched digital products and services. Direct data access will accelerate progress by allowing all stakeholders an equal chance to explore, develop and implement innovative ideas.
If independent service providers are refused the same conditions of access, all service markets ‘around the car’ could be potentially constrained or monopolised by vehicle manufacturers. The consequent loss of competition will mean less choice for consumers and businesses, and prices will not be any longer submitted to and controlled by competition.
Where do we go from here?
Legislation is urgently needed to ensure that independent service providers can continue to access in-vehicle data and resources directly and in real time. The current physical ‘communication life line’ with the vehicle must be transferred to the digital age. An in-vehicle interoperable, standardised, secure, and open-access telematics platform is the way to do this. This solution will ensure a high level of safety, security, and data protection, whilst also safeguarding competition, innovation, and consumer choice. It will allow independent service providers to create digital services and ecosystems, and enable the sector to unlock the full potential of in-vehicle data and allow them to contribute effectively to the European Data Economy and its collaborative connected mobility.