'The Future of eBusiness in the Automotive Industry' by Datamonitor advises fleet decision-makers that their negotiating position is fundamentally weakened if their leasing and fleet management supplier owns this information.
'If a lessee has been with a lessor for several years, both the driver and vehicle profiles will be very comprehensive,' it said.
These profiles will include information such as the type and age of vehicles, their average annual mileage, fuel expenditure, service and maintenance costs, insurance claims experience and even a synopsis of each driver's habits.
This information is of incalculable value when fleets consider changing supplier and go out to tender. Unless they can give the same level of historic vehicle and driver detail to all the suppliers invited to tender, their current supplier will hold an unfair advantage.
'Such profiles will allow the incumbent lessor to run a very efficient operation - more efficient than any new lessor would be able to manage without the profiles,' said the report.
'If the profiles belong to the lessor, this 'efficiency differential' will be a very powerful loyalty tool.
'It is in the interests of both the lessee and the industry as a whole that the lessee retains ownership of the information and hence can expect the efficiencies with any lessor.'
Data protection is a difficult and sensitive issue across Europe, with different countries imposing different restrictions on the ownership and sharing of personal and commercial information.
For this reason, the question of data ownership has tended not to be a high priority in international contracts.
But the issue will become increasingly important as fleet management companies develop IT systems to capture ever more detailed data on drivers and their vehicles.