Carmakers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple Inc. and Google Inc. through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.
Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetising the information.
Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.
But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.
Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems — steering, brakes and throttle, for instance — as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas. “We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co’s Executive Director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.
Consultant AlixPartners estimates global revenues from digitally connected cars will grow in value to $40 billion a year worldwide by 2018, from $16 billion in 2013, and auto companies would like to hold on to as much of that money as possible.
Auto firms hope to profit from in-vehicle data in a variety of ways, including the provision of travel planning services and auto repair and service information.
The car companies recognise that Apple and Google can glean a wealth of information from the mobile devices that users bring into the car, said Thilo Koslowski, automotive practice leader, Gartner.
“As for Apple’s and Google’s interest in connecting with drivers is all about tying you into their ecosystems,” he added.