Consumer Data Worries Holds Back Connect Car Potential

Nearly a third of US consumers don’t trust automakers to properly manage the vast amount of personal data generated by modern connected cars.

That’s the finding of a global study into how much data consumers are willing to share with automakers and other third parties. Many believe the findings present a significant challenge to manufacturers as they look for returns on the huge digital technology investments they have made.

The Deloitte 2023 Global Automotive Consumer Study suggests that consumers are willing to share their personal information if it means gaining access to vehicle health and maintenance updates, traffic congestion information and updates to improve road safety. However, it also highlighted how trust issues, particularly in Europe and the US, are potentially holding back the advancement of connected car services.

Connectivity specialist VNC Automotive says as vehicles have become more connected, their functionality has grown increasingly data-driven. Often that data is supplied by third-party providers and is transmitted across multiple networks and platforms, with each link in the chain carrying its own implications in terms of privacy security, and legislative compliance.

Now the organization suggests a more transparent approach by the automakers is the best way to garner increased trust by consumers. Peter Galek, product engineering director, said: “The industry’s current solution is to lock that functionality behind an impenetrable legal waiver that must be begrudgingly accepted before access is granted. This approach, almost by design, makes it largely impossible to know what is being agreed to and may have inadvertently helped to foster this lack of trust.”

He points to app store purveyors, such as Google and Apple, which have responded to similar challenges by attempting to be more transparent about how their customers’ data is used. This has included introducing new, more granular privacy controls that allow customers a greater say over what an app can and can’t do.

Tom Blackie, CEO at VNC Automotive, added: “Perhaps automotive OEMs should take a leaf out of the tech industry’s book. Many manufacturers offer a smartphone app that links to the car through a personalized account and this presents the ideal opportunity to explain what data is collected, how it will be used and to opt-in or out. A customer-facing portal could also offer a further chance to gather consent.

“Both would allow each customer to decide their own comfort level; some may prefer to withhold their location information, but still be perfectly comfortable sharing vehicle data such as fault codes or wear indicators. By being open and transparent about the data being collected and giving the customer the final say, it reassures them that their personal information is being treated with respect.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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