Computers On Wheels: The Rise Of Connected Cars

Computers On Wheels: The Rise Of Connected Cars

Computers On Wheels: The Rise Of Connected Cars

Your car isn’t simply a method of transport, it’s almost certainly a computer as well. In which case, it knows an awful lot about you and your preferences…

Connecting Cars 

Around two-thirds of all cars in the UK are connected cars. The overall number will rise year-on-year until 2026; from then on, all of them will be connected. These figures have been produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). What they reveal is that one of the largest and most transformative revolutions in automotive has gone largely unnoticed. If your car is ‘connected’, it’s communicating data about the vehicle and the driver straight to the manufacturer. At the end of 2017, there were seventeen million of these vehicles on the UK’s roads; globally, the number will reach 152 million by 2020. Further still, new features and aftermarket products could see the number rise to two billion by as soon as 2025.

What They Mean For Motorists 

On paper, connected cars are good news for drivers. They offer entertaining and personalised infotainment systems, making driving a more enjoyable process. They can learn a driver’s preferences, optimise routes based on traffic conditions and improve safety via car-to-car data sharing. Some even incentivise responsible driving with cheaper car insurance premiums and prizes. All of this naturally has utility for fleets and manufacturers, too. The former can use them for telematics and the latter gains a much more thorough understanding of their customers and the performance of their vehicles. But whether motorists effectively want all of this is a matter of debate. What’s more pressing is that fact that a very large percentage of them don’t seem to be aware of car connectivity at all. This is especially the case when it comes to what data is being collected about them and when.

Computers On Wheels 

Your car isn’t just a means of getting to work, the shops or social events. It’s now effectively a computer on wheels. That is to say, it’s basically a big smart phone. Given that last year Oxford researchers discovered that a third of the most popular apps share data with up to 10 parties, this is significant. One in five actually shared data with up to twenty parties! For some, more needs to be done in educating motorists as to what’s being collected and who it’s being shared with.

Michael Alsemgeest, chief digital officer at LeasePlan, wants more clarity. He said, “it is madness that, in times of GDPR, your car can still collect virtually all the data it wants. Drivers need to be much better able to give informed consent or not to collect data from their vehicles”. He added, “that doesn’t have to be difficult. After all, every time you download an app, you have the choice whether or not to agree that the data of the app is shared with third parties”.

It’s especially important that drivers understand their cars connectivity at the point of resale. If they don’t delete their profiles, they may be able to access information about the next owner. Or, alternatively, their own data may be exploited. The National Cyber Security Centre says “many car manufacturers and dealers state this in their terms and conditions”. It added, “some customers may not read them that closely and fail to delete their personal accounts and access. When the car is then sold on, the previous owner can track and monitor the car’s location and other data without the new owner’s knowledge.”

A Double-Edged Sword 

There is little doubt that connected cars entail all sorts of benefits for both drivers and the automotive industry at large. They’ll generate £62 billion for the UK economy by 2030, save thousands of lives and create up to 420,000 new jobs. The data they collect will improve vehicle safety, optimise road conditions and provide motorists with a more personalised experience at wheel. At the same time, they pose security risks if data isn’t properly secured and understood. Otherwise, motorists could be putting themselves and others at risk. Which is why raising awareness of this far-reaching, but largely silent, revolution is so important.

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With over 16,000 approved garages, a 24/7 support service and a host of cost-saving offers, Autoserve can keep your car moving smoothly. For any further questions please call Autoserve on 0121 521 3500.

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