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Connected car data proposals could threaten fleets’ SMR choice

British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney has labelled proposals for car manufacturers to collect and store data from connected vehicles in their servers, and release it only to third parties if there is an agreement, “very dangerous”. 

The proposals, known as the Extended Vehicle Concept, could restrict choice over where a vehicle is repaired and could “curtail innovation” in the independent repair sector, in Keaney’s view, affecting those leasing companies and fleet managers that use independents to reduce service, maintenance and repair (SMR) costs. 

Under the current draft proposals only the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has access to real-time data, potentially giving them an “unfair advantage”, Keaney said.  

“If our members own an asset it is up to them where they get that asset repaired or serviced and if they choose to go to an independent repairer they should be fully enabled to do that, and the independent repairer should be fully enabled to make the level of repairs that needs to be done to that vehicle,” he told delegates at the International Auto Finance Network (IAFN) spring conference. 

However, car manufacturers have expressed concerns about safety and security issues if third parties are given direct access to vehicle data. 

They believe it is neither feasible nor reasonable for them to test, validate and approve all third party applications, devices and services available on the market. 

They also believe that data consent rests with the company car driver and not the registered keeper (typically the leasing company). 

Who should have access to data has been an ongoing dispute, resulting in some company car drivers taking delivery of vehicles without access to connected services after leasing companies refused to agree to manufacturers’ terms and conditions (Fleet News, June 9, 2016).

Keaney pointed out that access to vehicle data has been discussed in the EU for more than a year with no agreement, resulting in OEM trade associations, including the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), “stepping into that void”. 

The SMMT’s recent Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Position Paper states that unless vehicle manufacturers have entered into a specific legal agreement with each of the registered keepers and/or have a contractual obligation to do so, the vehicle user data i.e. personal data is only ever used or shared with the express and prior consent of the vehicle user not the registered keeper. It states vehicle manufacturers do not, by default, have an obligation to provide vehicle data to registered keepers. 

It believes that the company car driver registering for the connected vehicle services, and agreeing to the terms and conditions associated with these, “must be put at the heart of any data consent process”. 

Representatives of both Arval and ALD Automotive, who also spoke at the IAFN conference, acknowledged the need to provide services that drivers want in order to gain their consent to share data. 

Arval products, services and platforms director Angela Montacute said that with increasing regulation, particularly General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on May 25, 2018, “we cannot take for granted that end users will give us this data”. 

She said Arval has worked with car manufacturers in relation to telematics and is now looking to work with them on connected car services “to be able to provide a combined experience to our end-user”.

“It is a tricky subject but I think many of us have started to operate in that space and certainly the relationships we have with a number of the OEMs are looking very positive in terms of collaboration in this area,” she said.  

Keaney said that some OEMs “are much more willing” to discuss data sharing and to “find workarounds to satisfy the needs of our sector”. 

“I think some OEMs will be prepared to negotiate, they are prepared to recognise the value chain that is the fleet sector and is a core part of the business in the UK market,” he said. 

Factors outside car manufacturers’ control may also mean connected vehicle data is shared in the future. “I would forecast with some degree of confidence that anybody that wants to drive a vehicle into the centre of London, certainly in the next 10 years, and into any other major European city in the next 10 years, will only be allowed to drive that vehicle into the city if they are prepared to share data on that car in terms of its location, its route and its planning,” Keaney said. 

Autonomous vehicles will “depend upon data being made available”, he added.  

For those reasons, Keaney believes manufacturers will ultimately release the connected data. 

 

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