Industry Case Study

Electric Vehicle Data Ownership

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Electric Vehicle Data Ownership – US

In the United States, car manufacturers acknowledge that data collected from vehicles is owned by the owner/lessee. Car Owners can control and access data collected from their vehicles through user agreements with the manufacturers.

Data Ownership

  • In 2015, the United States Congress responded to privacy concerns with a “law that makes it clear that data belongs to the car’s owner, not the auto company.” This concerns the event data recorders (EDR) data.
  • However, despite the enactment of privacy regulations by states and industry guidelines such as the 2014 Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers’ guidelines, “there is no regulatory framework that specifically addresses connected car data.”
  • Most automakers in the United States agree to comply with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers’ guidelines.
  • According to a study done by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEMs) “acknowledge that the owner or lessee of the car is the owner of the connected car data; however, they can access and control the data through user agreements. Data aggregators consider themselves to be the owners of the information that they sell, which is derived from the data. Owner-operators consider themselves to be the owners of the data collected by their sensors.”

Data Owned by EV Car Owners

  • According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, car manufacturers acknowledge that data collected from vehicles is owned by the owner/lessee.
  • Legal agreements between electric car manufacturers such as Tesla and car owners show that owners are enabled to access and control data collected from the vehicles.
  • According to Tesla’s privacy statement for the United States market, data collected include”vehicle identification number; speed information; odometer readings; battery use management information; battery charging history; electrical system functions; software version information; infotainment system data; safety-related data and camera images.” Other data include remote analysis data, charging information, service history, and safety analysis data.

Accessing the Data

  • According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, car owners can access data collected from their vehicles through user agreements with the manufacturers.
  • According to Tesla’s privacy statement for the United States, car owners can access/enable third parties to access data collected from their vehicles. Individuals can request access to their data by submitting a Data Privacy Request, contacting the company, or through a Tesla Account.
  • General Motors also allows car owners to access and update data in their records by contacting them through phone numbers available on the company’s Privacy Statement page.


Electric Vehicle Data Ownership – Europe

In the European Union, EV manufacturers have total ownership over all the collected data from their electric vehicles. However, in the light of recent connected vehicle data and privacy regulations, they are now obligated to give third-parties access to the data but with consent from the car owner.

Manufacturers Own the Data Collected by Electric Vehicles

  • In Europe, only vehicle manufacturers own and control data collected by electric vehicles.
  • The EV data collected by the vehicle and owned by the manufacturer includes battery State-of-Charge (SOC).
  • According to a study from Dutch connected vehicles, some of the information manufacturers of connected vehicles collect include the route, speed, and the driver’s driving style.
  • According to Tesla’s privacy statement for the European market, the company collects information such as “vehicle identification number; speed information; odometer readings; battery use management information; battery charging history; electrical system functions; software version information; infotainment system data; safety-related data and camera images,” and so much more.
  • From a survey, 80% of the respondents believe that their dealer has not informed them on which data is being collected by the connected car, while 66% have no idea how the data is used.
  • In Europe, EV manufacturers (OEMs) collect and process EV data and assume full control over it. Before the passing of recent new regulations, the manufacturers made no guarantee to make the collected data available to third party service providers such as smart-charging operators.

EV Data That Belongs to the Car Owner

  • While most of the data collected by electric vehicles in Europe belongs to or is exclusively controlled by the EV manufacturer, some personal data on the driver may be regulated by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • This personal data is defined as “any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual,” and it may include “documented discussions with customers about their EV faults.”
  • According to the GDPR, some of these personal data that belongs to the owner of the car include vehicle identification numbers (VINs), “technical information concerning the vehicle’s condition (e.g. engine coolant temperature, engine RPM, tyre pressure.)”

New EU Regulation for Car Data Access

  • Many third-party service operators like smart-charging companies have been for a while now, pressuring governments in the EU to formulate regulations that would allow non-discriminatory access to electric vehicle data from the manufacturers.
  • In line with the EU’s Regulation 2018/858, electric vehicle manufacturers must be willing to share data collected from their vehicles, effective September 1, 2020. The data protection and access regulations are for “connected cars,” both electric and non-electric.
  • This new regulation is put in place to ensure fair competition between independent vehicle repair operators and authorized dealers. The OEMs are now obligated to provide technical information collected by the “onboard devices and other vehicle components” to third-parties.
  • According to the regulations, “A manufacturer shall put in place the necessary arrangements and procedures, in accordance with Article 61, to ensure that vehicle OBD information and vehicle repair and maintenance information is accessible through websites using a standardized format in a readily accessible and prompt manner, and in a manner which is non-discriminatory compared to the provisions given or access granted to authorized dealers and repairers.”
  • Vehicle manufacturers are also allowed to charge a fee for third-parties to access the data.
  • According to the new regulations, vehicle manufacturers will have to obtain consent from car owners and drivers before sharing the car data with third-parties.
  • The manufacturers could use websites, mobile apps, or infotainment systems to get car owners’ consent, but from a recent survey conducted by Otonomo, most car owners prefer giving consent through the infotainment systems.


Electric Vehicle Data Ownership – China

The Chinese electric vehicle market became the largest in the world in less than a decade, with more than 1 million electric vehicles being sold in the country in 2018, a figure that was three times more than those sold in the United States. According to BBC Business, China’s government invested approximately $50 billion in the industry, hoping to gain dominance and global automobile supremacy in the future. Insights surrounding who owns the data that is collected by electric vehicles in China have been provided below.

Electric Vehicle Data: China

  • According to a recent article by the Associated Press (AP) that relied on a national specifications report published in 2016, “electric vehicles in China transmit data from the car’s sensors back to the manufacturer.” Some of the data collected include location, battery and engine function, direction, as well as speed.
  • However, in China, it is mandatory for all electric vehicle manufacturers to capture data from these vehicles and avail them to the government. The Financial Times reported that every electric vehicle made and driven in China is obligated to send data to the Chinese government after every 30 seconds, resulting in an ‘insane‘ amount of data in the government hands. An engineer working on the project quoted by the Financial Times estimated that the Chinese government gets approximately 1 gigabyte of data per car every month.
  • Electric Vehicle manufacturers operating in the country stated that they are only following the local laws put in place with more than 200 of them including BMW, General Motors, Tesla, Ford, and Volkswagen among others transmitting a lot of information collected from the vehicles to government-backed monitoring centers.
  • Although we could not find a list of all the data collected from electric vehicles, after data is captured from the cars’ sensors, manufacturers are then required to send at least 61 data points to government facilities such as the Shanghai Electric Vehicle Public Data Collecting, Monitoring, and Research Center.
  • The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is responsible for setting up the regulation mandating the collection of this data and according to the regulation in place, companies producing electric vehicles are required to set up a monitoring platform for collecting information on vehicles’ operational safety status and link the platform to the monitoring platforms of local and national governments.
  • John Zeng of LMC Automotive Shanghai said, “It’s no secret: local governments want to know if people are actually driving EVs, as they have to plan for the overall development of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, which governments are spending a lot of money on.” Mr. Zeng also added that if people do not want the government to collect their data, then they should not buy electric vehicles.
  • On the other hand, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, Maya Wang, stated that there is zero protection against state surveillance and that the “government wants to know what people are up to at all times and react in the quickest way possible. Tracking vehicles is one of the main focuses of their mass surveillance.”
  • The article by the Associated Press also revealed that only 1 in 9 electric vehicle owners was aware that the data collected from his or her car was being sent to the government despite the fact that the data could automatically be used to stop an electric vehicle according to an official of a national data center.
  • Some electric car owners in the country stated that it is useless to be concerned about the data being sent to the government and that if one is, “then there’s no way to live in the country.” We could not find any insights or pieces of information on whether data collected from electric vehicles in China is owned by the car owners or the type of data that the owners own.
GLENN TREVOR
Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at Simple Manifestation with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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