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Is data from connected vehicles valuable and if so to whom?

Earlier this month Luca Ciferri writing for Automotive News wrote an interesting piece on data, specifically data originating from connected vehicles; Data: Gold Mine or Land Mine.

Yes, fully autonomous vehicles are imminent and will themselves bring many positive things to society.  Shared mobility, less underutilized capital being used less than 5%, aka the car in your garage, vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure communication, all contributing to efficiency.  And perhaps most important is the contribution to safety, zero accidents and zero fatality mobility is an enticing goal for automakers and mobility providers.  Autonomous vehicles are indeed more polite than humans!

Ciferri raises the inevitable proposition…that some automakers believe that the highly connected vehicles they produce will offer another benefit to the auto company: lucrative profits from the vast amounts of data produced that they hope to sell to other businesses and tech companies, like Google and Apple.

Over the last half dozen years there have been many thoughts put forward on the value of connected car data, ranging from a little to a lot.  And to be honest, a significant amount of that value accrued to the connected or autonomous vehicle maker.

But beyond the issue of who owns the data, a touchy subject for another time, there is the very real issue of personal identity.  Is a person’s personal identity defined by the autonomous vehicle they are in or is it defined by their smart phone?  I truly believe that this is so obvious that it boggles the mind that there are even aspirations here.  What unique information do automakers have?

It is clear that people only spend a narrow slice of time in their vehicle each day, 5%…might even be a high number.  But have you ever noticed how people bury themselves in their smart phones?  Seems to be only limited by the endurance of the battery and sometimes, when there is a charger available…not even that limit applies.  Data is flowing, selling and promotion opportunities exist for all that time!

Certainly, they have data on the vehicle and its operation. This is valuable to the automaker for operation, quality, service/maintenance etc.  But that is a pretty narrow slice of value.

Other opportunities arise from where the driver or vehicle is, what it is being used for, thereby enabling companies to offer and sell products and services.  But go back to the identity question…the vehicle is in use a small percentage of time…the smart phone, a whole lot more.  McKinsey suggests that 5B Euros of value is created for every minute a passenger is attentive to mobile content.  But is that via the car or via the personal device…I believe we all know that answer.

There is likely no significant value of autonomous vehicle data to car makers, none.  That battle has been decided, if indeed there ever was one.  The automaker, beyond the use of data directly pertinent to the automaker, was never on the fight card.

The value of data from connected and autonomous vehicles is selectively valuable not universally valuable.  Data has value to specific business models and within a narrow context.

The value of the “big data” is already shared…the tech companies and other providers of goods and services already have your data.  Car companies, indeed must be very careful about building business models around the value of data…don’t lose sight of the primary function…mobility!

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