Google recently announced that it will partner with Fiat Chrysler to develop its autonomous vehicle technologies. This is big news, but the bigger story is why the next Google autonomous vehicle will be a Chrysler, not a Chevrolet. The answer is data—and more importantly—who gets to control it.
Negotiations between General Motors and Google fell through late last year, reportedly because they could not come to an agreement on who controls the data collected by the vehicles. In today’s increasingly connected cars, data collection goes way beyond how often you floor the accelerator or change lanes without signaling. Data drawn from infotainment systems and connected devices like phones and tablets can reveal myriad personal information from your taste in food and music to where you get gas. This info is valuable to everyone—to advertisers, auto manufacturers and consumers alike—and nobody wants to give it up.
Rightfully so. This wrangling over data has implications that go far beyond who gets paid for a Taco Bell ad that shows up on your Infotainment screen. As automotive IoT advances, auto manufacturers are looking for recurring revenue streams from in-car services that they can sell and control. Location services, internet radio, Wi-Fi access, connected services from your devices—and that’s just some of the tech goodies that are available and monetized today.
The best is yet to come. Gartner predicts that more than 250 million vehicles are going to be connected by 2020, and consumer spend on in-vehicle connectivity will double. Auto manufacturers, like Audi and Subaru, are forward-looking in trying to control the trove of data and new “beyond the sale” revenue streams that will be flying out of their collective tailpipes in the very near future.
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