How data sharing can accelerate connected vehicle services

Full realisation of the benefits of electric vehicles will come from data collection and sharing.
Published: Wed 16 May 2018

Transportation is arguably at the forefront when it comes to data gathering and the need for data sharing. Electric vehicles (EVs) with charging requirements, internet-connected vehicles, shared vehicle schemes and autonomous self-drive vehicles – the four key trends apparent in the sector – all depend on data, both generated internally within the vehicle and sourced externally.

While the full realisation of these functionalities is still in the future, much of the data on which they will be based is already being harvested. For example, consider the amount of locational and drive data already collected from cellphones and sensors in vehicles. Add to that data collated by organisations such as highways authorities, city governments, the police and insurance companies.

And the motor manufacturing companies also are collecting data. A 2015 study by the European consumer motoring company FIA Region I found that information that is tracked and could be transmitted to the manufacturer from new vehicles included driver profiles that are created, vehicle locations including the last 100 parking locations, trip lengths and personal information such as contacts details synced from mobile phones.

GDPR impact

While the rights and wrongs around such data collection and how it is used are under debate, in Europe at least it will be impacted by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

FIA Region I has determined that under the GDPR, most vehicle data qualifies as personal data, as it can be associated to the registered owner, and should be treated as such. Moreover, European product liability and product safety legislation does not justify extensive monitoring of real time car data for vehicle manufacturers.

Data portability protection, should the vehicle owner change service providers, is another key aspect of the GDPR.

Following a February vote in the European Parliament’s Transport Committee in favour of binding legislation on connected car data, the European Commission is now expected to come forward with a regulatory proposal on access to car data by no later than the end of this year.

“Now it is time that the Commission develops binding rules that will allow different service providers to compete fairly to provide connected car services,” comments Laurianne Krid, Director General of FIA Region I. “These rules should ensure that consumers have a free choice of service providers, while also providing strict data protection and security.”

EV data

While individual sets of data, on say a specific parameter are of limited use, as the Internet of Things envisages, the greater value comes from combining multiple data sets often from disparate sources.

Widely talked about typical smart city applications include smart parking and traffic flow management. But one can easily imagine other use cases, particularly for EVs with their charging requirements and the needs and opportunities these present for managed charging and vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-building.

In a 2017 study on urban mobility consultants McKinsey identifies EVs among the top six technologies transforming mobility and especially urban mobility.

“We believe that new technologies and business models – including autonomy, EVs and the greater use of data and connectivity – will bring new options and enable approaches that haven’t worked before,” the report states.

And McKinsey doesn’t just refer to the passenger EVs that immediately come to mind but also commercial fleets – such as UPS – which have predictable route characteristics, limited infrastructure requirements, high utilisation and low torque capabilities and are argued as “attractive targets for transitioning to battery power”.

Ultimately the aim with data is to effectively monetise it, whether as in the case of EV charging this is for the electricity supplier or utility requiring flexibility or the EV driver looking to get the lowest price electricity or making their battery storage available to the grid.

In a 2015 study, Accenture estimated the added value of connectivity at over €5,500 on a per vehicle basis over its lifetime, with the total business value of connected car services reaching €100bn by 2020 and €500bn by 2025.

Underpinning this will be data. In an earlier 2016 study from McKinsey on monetising car data, the top recommendation for providers is to step up their data management capabilities in terms of data collection, cleansing and formatting from a multitude of relevant sources. Then to apply ‘big data/advanced analytics’ techniques to extract valuable insights; and to deploy features, products and services that deliver value to the end customers and /or their business partners. In the EV world, this could for example, include aggregators.