The issue of access to data generated by connected cars (currently it’s the manufacturers who are in the driving seat) has raised a series of questions for the UK’s independent sector.

Aftermarket representatives question whether legislation in Europe is far-reaching enough to protect the right of independent garages to gain the access to the information they need to be able to service and repair vehicles thereby providing genuine and equal choice to the motorist.

An estimated 80% of cars will be connected via the internet this year.

(source: BVRLA)

This data has the potential to allow OEMs to have direct contact with the ‘car’ and communicate the need for a repair or service to the motorist thereby placing them in control of the information generated by drivers.

From the point of view of the UK’s independent repair network, it places them at a disadvantage.

Earlier this year, we explored the issue of who owns the data or who should own the data (the majority of people are in favour of drivers and owners controlling the data including the option to turn off access).

Whilst OEMs largely agree the data is owned by the motorist, it stands to reason they would have to obtain consent and abide by relevant data protection legislation which is currently based on the EU Directive passed in 1995.

Many argue it is now out-of-date and insufficient in a world where data is generated at a massive rate via a variety of different platforms, including our cars.

The BVRLA, the trade body for the vehicle rental and leasing sector, describes the current data situation as a ‘wild west’ scenario in terms of data access and usage (You can read more here…).

New EU data protection laws, due later this year, are set to tackle the challenges in our data-driven age and the proliferation of the Internet of Things.

Meanwhile, the independent sector is keen for the EU to also take on board the access to vehicle data from in-vehicle telematics systems.

Currently, independents have the right to access information via the standard on-board diagnostics (OBD) connector, but this legislation applies to emissions and periodic testing (MOT) data, not to wider data such as the service due date and anything else the car may be ‘telling’ the manufacturer.

As well as access to the same level of information, the independents also fear the manufacturers effectively looking over their shoulders and monitoring what they are doing so many have mooted the possibility of data provision via an independent platform. This article in Cat magazine provides an excellent and in-depth analysis http://www.catmag.co.uk/tag/vehicle-manufacturers

It is clear to us that if the EU is committed to ensuring consumers have the choice to have their vehicle serviced or repaired wherever they choose, access to data for the independents is imperative if we are to have a level playing field.

The connected car heralds an exciting era of connectivity for the motorist, but only if that data is handled sensitively, securely, fairly and truly with the consumer, and not the manufacturer, in the driving seat.