Will the EU force automotive OEMs to open the gates to car data?

Date: Sunday April 5, 2020

[Brussels – 5th April 2020]

At the recent MAP conference in Paris, Karima Delli, Chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, was adamant that “data cannot be the property of only a very few (…). Tomorrow’s mobility will not happen without independent repairers nor mobility start-ups”.

A member of the French Green Party, she was stating that in the context of the European ”Green Deal”, the repairability of cars would become a key issue.

But her view was in line with Jean-Marc Zulesi. The French MP in charge of writing the bill for the Loi d’Orientation des Mobilités (LOM) was claiming that “data does not belong to the manufacturer. Access to data must be non-discriminatory”.

This is crucial as the French government is preparing the implementation decrees of the new LOM law (Loi d’Orientation des Mobilités). Passed in December, the law will introduce many innovations to the French transport landscape.  

L'accès aux données du véhicule connecté

On the other hand, Jocelyn Delattre, representing the European association of vehicle manufacturers (ACEA) was reminding the public that “a car is not a phone. Its primary function is to transport people from A to B. The car manufacturers remains responsible that the car works for the vehicle’s lifetime. Therefore they must set the rules that should be complied with.”

As France and Europe will enter key debates on the access to vehicle data, who is right?

In the last 8 months, we conducted a global research on the global connected car data market, interviewing 49 different companies including a large number of car makers. 

Based on this research and 10 years of advice to all mobility stakeholders, we believe that there are 3 simple principles that can be implemented by regulators in the next 2-3 years:

  1. Mandating the use by OEMs of neutral Vehicle Data Hubs for all new type-approved vehicles,
  2. Demanding a Minimum Set of Data (as for the eCall regulation) to be collected through these data hubs at a fair price (allowing OEMs to recoup their investment in the system), 
  3. Requiring car manufacturers to install (for all new models) the mandatory OBD port in a place that allows car owners to use it while the car is moving (and make sure this is safe).

None of these principles is impossible:

  1. Most OEMs have already set themselves up to share data with third parties
  2. Similarly to eCall, the connected car MSD (CCMSD) could be mandated on new car models
  3. The OBD port already exists and it is a matter of standardising its location and free access when the car is moving.

None of them threatens the car security and safety:

  1. Sending data to a few data hubs can be tested and optimised in a much easier way than with a very large number of third parties
    • VDHs can play the role of a firewall thereby protecting vehicles from direct attacks
    • It is much easier to audit the security of a few market places than thousands of developers
  2. The standardisation of the CCMSD and its related security protection mechanisms can reduce the risk of successful hacking
  3. Security and safety will not be threatened by access to the OBD port if they design it themselves in a secure way

And last but not least, none of these principles threatens the viability of the European car industry. On the opposite, they open considerable opportunities of value creation for both the mobility ecosystem and European citizens.

Finally we often hear that opening the gates of car data would allow tech giants to take over the car industry. This would be true if the regulation was asymmetric. Tech giants’ devices (laptops, smartphones, TVs, etc.) should also be opened up to third parties.

We understand that this is actually about to happen. The European Commission recently announced a Circular Economy Action Plan, which will push for the repairability of electronic devices.

Frederic Bruneteau, Managing Director

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To continue the discussion, please contact Frederic Bruneteau at fbruneteau@ptolemus.com.