Manufacturer data monopoly: Will brand workshops soon be the only businesses that can repair vehicles?

17. May 2023 | Industry + More

The topic is almost as old as the data itself: Criticism of the data monopoly held by manufacturers in the automotive industry. Suppliers, associations and the TÜV and ADAC all fear that manufacturers will be able to secure exclusive access to vehicle data in the long term.

 Networked vehicles are collecting more and more data. Data that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. But vehicle manufacturers have little interest in sharing this data. Their argument: Since they are the ones who manufacture vehicles and since data production is an integral part of vehicle operation, they also have (exclusive) right to this data.

Data-based services: Business of the future

The not entirely unjustified objection from the critics: This means that drivers could be forced to use certain services or products from car manufacturers in order to gain full benefit from the data collected by their vehicles.

Data-based services relating to cars are considered to be a business of the future. After all, vehicle data is of interest or even essential for many business models - both existing and new ones. But this business could be closed off to independent service providers. Many players in the automotive sector, from ADAC to suppliers, have therefore been demanding a regulation in this field for years.

Is an EU commissioner blocking data regulation?

According to the publication Automobilwoche, the problem is as follows: EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has little interest in monitoring the regulations for access to vehicle data that he himself announced. "If Breton doesn't change his approach quickly, manufacturers will be able to secure exclusive access to vehicle data in the long term."

The critics of the data monopoly situation are therefore very concerned, to put it mildly. "If the regulations are not put in place, manufacturers and their branded workshops could soon be the only businesses that can repair vehicles. Independent businesses may be out of the question," warns ADAC Head of Communications Katrin van Randenborgh. And it has to be said that that would not be in the interest of drivers either. On the contrary: They have a vested interest in being able to go to their trusted workshop of choice and, in general, being able to decide for themselves how their data is used.

Only car manufacturers know what data their networked cars collect and send

The German Motor Vehicle Trade Association (ZDK) is also concerned: "The development of innovative business models is based on equal access to data," says Dominik Lutter, ZDK. Without regulation, there is a risk of data monopoly that will destroy all other players in the industry.

So far, only car manufacturers know exactly what data their networked cars collect and send - and for what purpose. What's more, It is often not possible to pass on the data, even if drivers explicitly want to do so.

Industry sets an ultimatum for the EU

The tyre manufacturer Michelin, for which networked tyres already play an important strategic role, is also taking up arms. The high-ranking Michelin Manager Lorraine Frega has therefore demanded that Breton finally present a law by the autumn at the latest: "A sector-based and legally binding regulation of access to internal vehicle data is urgently required to guarantee freedom of choice for users and fair competition!"

To be continued. Hopefully.