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‘Data hunger’ of connected cars is top concern for drivers, finds LeasePlan

Drivers are keen to experience innovations and benefits from connected cars but data privacy is a real concern.

LeasePlan says connected car data should go to ‘neutral servers’, operated and financed not by manufacturers but by an independent party

Research carried out by LeasePlan for the Car Data and Privacy section of its annual Mobility Monitor found exactly half (50%) of drivers are worried about who owns the data collected from their vehicle. In addition, 49% are worried about personal data being left in cars after they are returned/sold, while 44% are worried about their data being shared with third parties.

However, the research shows many drivers in the UK are willing to share data if there is a benefit to their driving experience, in particular if it would reduce traffic congestion and journey time (68% of respondents willing to share), reduce fuel and maintenance costs (68%), reduce vehicle emissions (68%), or improve car performance (63%).

Yet, in all the above cases, almost half of UK respondents would only be willing to share car data if it was done anonymously.

Alfonso Martinez, managing director of LeasePlan UK, said the research shows the duality of car data and the need for industry action to allay drivers’ concerns.

“On one hand, you have a growing concern around anonymity and the potential misuse of personal driver information; on the other, there is an acknowledgment that data-generated insights drive innovation and lead to greater efficiencies within fleet management and the driver experience,” he commented.

“Going forward, we need to ensure a greater level of transparency around how data is being used by the industry and how this impacts the driver. Most drivers have very little understanding of what’s being monitored and to whom this information is being sent. We also need to cultivate more collaborative relationships between all involved parties – namely manufacturers, mobility service providers and drivers – as this will encourage and facilitate further growth and innovation within the sector.”

Tex Gunning, CEO of LeasePlan, also urged industry action as he reinforced LeasePlan’s view that the connected car data must not end up in a black box controlled solely by the vehicle manufacturer, but should go to a ‘neutral server’ operated and financed not by the manufacturers but by an independent party; a view first set out by LeasePlan in an op-ed for Het Financieele Dagblad.

Gunning explained: “The ‘data hunger’ of our ever-smarter cars is a real concern for drivers. The auto industry therefore needs to step up and make it much easier for drivers to understand what data is being collected and for what purpose. Drivers also need a simple opt-out solution – if they want to delete their personal data, they must be able to do that.

“In our view, we can only give drivers true peace of mind if we create a ‘neutral server’ for car data. This would aggregate car data anonymously, and give drivers much more control over what data is shared, preventing any one company from having a data monopoly.”

Carried out with the help of Ipsos, the Mobility Monitor is an international survey of over 4,000 drivers across the UK and 16 different countries into the big issues facing drivers and the automotive industry.

The Car Data & Privacy edition of this year’s survey can be downloaded here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006.