In-Car Data: New Fuel of The Auto Industry


Connected cars are generating volumes of data that can transform the way we look at mobility services

Data has become the new oil, and for car manufacturers, this means in a literal sense. As auto companies are leveraging multiple technologies to build connected cars, the data generated from this is expected to affect important decisions in the near future.

According to Accenture, modern cars collect around 25 GB of data per hour from various inbuilt sensors and cameras. This data allows real-time insights about the performance and condition of components and more. In the manufacturing plants, cars or marketing, and sales, OEMs can extract value from a large amount of in-car generated data to provide better products and services. CV2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technologies like LTE-V2X and 5G are also paving the way for vehicle autonomy as they allow cars to communicate with each other.

Experts say, by 2030, this data will be at the center of a $450-750 billion market.

However, with more sensors being added to vehicles, the newly generated data is not just opening up new opportunities but also posing new challenges. Efficient ways of processing the automotive big data will enable mobility companies to implement new services around predictive maintenance.

The analysis of in-car generated data is still at quite a nascent stage. However, auto manufacturers can already see its potential. Among other things, in-car data can be used by third-party service providers like insurance companies, automotive suppliers, tech giants (to provide virtual assistants) and even service centers. Auto manufactures can also utilize the data to provide better-focused customer service. Garth Dunsmore, the Director of Electric Vehicles and Connected Services at Nissan Europe, believes that data can be vital to the carmaker to improve the performance of vehicles and the infrastructure network.

While speaking to journalists at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show Dunsmore said, “Data helps us understand better how customers are using their electric vehicles. To understand their charging patterns; to understand where and when they need charging facilities and that’s really the cornerstone of what we introduced in 2010, which has driven our infrastructure strategy and has driven us to put in more quick chargers are certain locations giving more charging options to consumers.”

Dunsmore also spoke about making the customer data anonymous and forwarding it to a third-party like an insurance company so that customers can get better service. There will be a need to differentiate between personal and anonymous data of the customers. Johann Jungwirth, CDO at Volkswagen, while speaking to Thomson Reuters mentioned about the importance of digital fairness. “In this environment, where customers are connected in an AI-enabled car, we want to be completely open and transparent in terms of data usage, collection and so on. We want to put the user in control of that data. To be clear, we differentiate between personal data and anonymous data. It’s important that for any personal data we get the consent of the users.”

When multiple devices are collecting the in-car data, it becomes crucial to understand who owns the data and also where one can form the lines of user consent. General motors recently went moved ahead in tracking data to test its usage for marketing decisions. The company traced the habits of 90,000 drivers in Chicago and Los Angeles to assess the potential relationship between what they listen on the radio to and what they buy. GM also applies Big Data to develop 360 degrees customer profiles to predict sales. GM also uses data to combine geographic Information Systems and data analytics to improve the performance of its dealers. With a focus on data from sensors and telematics within their cars, they save $ 800 per car.

Data will drive most of the decisions for car makers in the future, and as the in-car data usage matures, it can be difficult to predict the disruption it can cause to manufacturing, auto-insurance, and auto-tech service providers. The scope expands to change the whole way we look at mobility and technology.

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Meeta Ramnani is the Senior Editor with OnDot Media. She writes about technologies including AI, IoT, Cloud, Big Data, Blockchain across various industries with a focus on Digital Transformation. An avid bike rider, Meeta, is a postgraduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, where her specialization was Business Journalism. She carries four years of experience in mainstream print media where she worked as a correspondent with The Times Group and Sakal Media Group in Pune.