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OEM Control Of Telematics Data Poses A Threat To Independent Repairers, Auto Care Association Says

Automakers, insurers, repairers and suppliers covet telematics data, and for good reason. However, the Auto Care Association takes the position that consumers should control the data generated by their vehicles.

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Most consumers (62 percent) haven’t heard of telematics. But among those who have, 81 percent believe that vehicle owners should decide who has access to the data.

Those are two data points highlighted in the Auto Care Association’s “2018 State of Auto Care Report,” which devotes an entire section to telematics – the technology that collects and transmits information on vehicle diagnostics and driver behavior.

Automakers, insurers, repairers and suppliers covet telematics data, and for good reason. However, the Auto Care Association takes the position that consumers should control the data generated by their vehicles.

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“Once a vehicle is purchased by an individual, the car owner – not the car company – should determine where the information from those systems is sent, if to anyone,” the association asserts in its “2018 State of Auto Care Report.”

The reality – for now – is that the OEMs control the data. For the most part, the association says, car owners don’t have the option to decide where the data goes, or if it should go anywhere at all. And the OEMs can send the data – on engine-oil life, for example – to their pricey dealer service shops, which can leverage the information to lure vehicle owners into their shops for maintenance and repairs, the association says.

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“Depriving drivers of choice in service and degrading competition in auto repair threatens to raise costs for consumers and threatens the viability of the independent auto care industry,” the association asserts in its report.

The Auto Care Association is engaged in a full-court press to educate consumers about the issue. The “Your Car, Your Data, Your Choice” initiative encourages consumers to sign a pledge stating that they believe car data should belong to the car owner.

According to the initiative’s website, by 2020, more than 90 percent of new vehicles will transmit real-time information about the owner’s driving behavior and the vehicle’s condition. The website emphasizes that the data can offer enormous benefit to consumers, but “automakers are steering consumers to higher-priced repair options.”

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“This pads their pockets while consumers are stuck paying more,” the association says on the “Your Car, Your Data, Your Choice” website. “If car owners could share their own data with smaller, independent, lower-priced auto repair businesses, they would be able to shop around and get the best price for service and maintenance. Owners buy and pay for their cars; they should have the freedom to choose what to do with the data and who to share it with.”

In its 2018 report, the Auto Care Association points out that its ultimate goal is to promulgate legislation or an agreement that shifts control of the vehicle data from the automakers to consumers.

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