Aftermarket calls for open data sharing to prevent monopolisation of industry

11 May 2017

11 May 2017

With connected cars sharing data back and forth with vehicle manufacturers, automotive aftermarket and mobility service providers are concerned their businesses will be left out in the cold and competition in the market will shift to give car makers much more power in repair and technical information.

Now a stakeholder coalition of European institutions covering some of the potentially affected areas are calling for the EU to create a robust regulatory technical framework for an interoperable, standardised, secure and safe digital in-vehicle telematics platform to make the European Digital Economy for the automotive aftermarket and mobility services a reality.

The stakeholder coalition embraces the European associations representing vehicle dealers, authorised and independent workshops, periodic testing centres, independent publishers of technical information, manufacturers of garage test equipment, independent wholesalers of automotive replacement parts, the rental and leasing industry as well as the mobility clubs.

The fear in the aftermarket industry is that with vehicle telematics offering a connection to data servers of manufacturers, they will be in a position to charge what they want for information relating to repair or part development and in extreme cases could freeze companies out in favour of their preferred suppliers and dealerships. During a policy lunch chaired by Ismail Ertug MEP, the stakeholder coalition demonstrated the importance of direct access to the vehicle, its data and resources to enable innovative and competitive digital products and services.

The coalition believes that quality of data provided dictates quality of service, therefore aftermarket suppliers and businesses need real-time access to that collected by connected vehicles. Currently, this only goes via a closed telematics system, making it impossible for other service providers to compete fairly and equally.

According to FIGIEFA, the European body representing automotive aftermarket distributors, in a letter written to the European Commission in the summer of 2016, one of the concepts under discussion suggests channelling the remote communication for independent market operators through the vehicle manufacturers’ proprietary servers (the ′Extended Vehicle’). This would give vehicle manufacturers exclusive control of access to in-vehicle data and information (who, when, what, how), allowing them to determine the access conditions, impose their own business models and monitor the businesses and processes of independent stakeholders – with whom they directly compete in the automotive aftermarket and with a wider range of other vehicle-related services (e.g. financial, leasing, insurances). This would negatively impact independent operators and service providers’ ability to compete.

However, Bernfried Coldewey from Germany’s ADAC Automobile Club gave a live demonstration of how an Open Telematics Platform could operate if direct access to the vehicle, its data and resources was ensured. The dashboard display of the car would show the choice of applications freely chosen by the consumer and displayed in their car. At present, the consumer has only a ′monopolistic choice’ of applications chosen by the vehicle manufacturer. In the event of a breakdown, a safe remote connection from ADAC with the vehicle would be able to detect the fault – and in some cases even remedy remotely – to allow the driver to continue his journey. Coldewey concluded that this service would not be possible with the vehicle manufacturers’ so-called ′Extended Vehicle’, currently proposed by the vehicle manufacturers as the solution for third-party data access.

Professor Michael Matoni from the Technical University of Cologne presented the first results of a study on the effects of the ′Extended Vehicle’ on the automotive aftermarket between now and 2030. For the current 1.9 million workshop-employees, between 566.000 and 833.000 could lose their job in the many SMEs that provide valuable customer services, especially in rural areas.

Instead, an Open Interoperable Telematics Platform should be put in place which will allow independent suppliers to offer their own digital platforms and give the consumer freedom of choice as to where their data goes.

Speakers stressed that safe and secure technical solutions clearly exist to provide an interoperable in-vehicle telematics platform, but that EU legislation is needed to ensure that new innovative and competitive databased business models can develop to deliver consumer choice and innovation in the digital era.


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