That’s the title of a column I wrote and was published today by PCMag.com’s NextCar site. As I mentioned in the beginning of the piece, if you want to know the end game in connected car technology, follow the money. And that means following the data. Or at least who controls it.
It’s clear that automakers need the help of tech companies, and the most obvious example of late is with infotainment in the form of Apple CarPlay and and Google Android Auto. But some have questioned whether it’s wise for automakers to give up so much valuable data on things like navigation destinations and media choices to the two tech giants.
Now the auto industry is starting to ask this as well in light of not just these two recently announced infotainment platforms, but also existing deals that automakers have with Google to supply navigation mapping and local search capability. At a conference in Munich last week, the CEOs of Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz called for automakers to establish platforms and protocols for limiting the vehicle data shared with Google, Apple and others.
“We seek connection to Google’s data systems, but we still want to be the masters of our own cars,” VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn said at the conference during a discussion that also included Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Mercedes Benz’s parent company Daimler. “Potential conflict arises around making data available.”
Zetsche added that “it’s very good” that the auto industry is developing ways to process and store vehicle data so it doesn’t rely on third parties. “That’ll boost our position when working with Google. Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain,” he said. “It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.”
We think the negotiations should start soon, before drivers accustomed to Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto and the features become available potentially in the next few months. Better yet, automakers and suppliers should make it clear to car owners the value drivers are getting for the data they’re giving up.