VW chief warns carmakers must prevent the connected vehicle of the future turning into a “data monster” that aids snooping on customers

March 10, 2014 8:30 am

VW chief urges carmakers to fight the rise of the ‘data monster’

By Chris Bryant in Frankfurt

Carmakers must prevent the connected vehicle of the future turning into a “data monster” that aids snooping on customers, the chief executive of Volkswagen has warned. 

Speaking at the opening of the CeBIT IT fair in Hanover, Martin Winterkorn, Europe’s most influential auto executive, vowed to protect customers against the abuse of their data.

“I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother. At this point, the entire industry is called upon. We need a voluntary commitment by the automobile industry,” he said.

Cars are set to generate increasingly vast amounts of data as they are kitted out with infotainment and connectivity services as well as self-driving functions.

Testing an autonomous S-Class saloon on German roads last year Mercedes-Benz said images from the onboard stereo camera alone generated 300 gigabytes of data every hour.

Modern vehicles have become mobile computers, with 1.5km of cables, more than 50 control units and the computing power of 20 advanced personal computers, Mr Winterkorn noted. “The car must not become a data monster,” he said.

In the same way that social networks gather data in order to offer targeted advertising, data will offer the car industry the chance to offer new services.

Some of these services will clearly be beneficial for the consumer: sensors in the car can automatically alert the driver when the vehicle requires a service and let the repair shop know exactly what needs fixing.

But some impacts may be more intrusive: insurance companies are expected to push customers to install telematicsystems

that could identify aggressive driving patterns and penalise these with higher premiums.

The car industry also faces a challenge in how to store all that data securely, whether in the vehicle or in the cloud. It must also decide which data can be discarded and which must be preserved, in the event of an accident. 

In the audience on Sunday were German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister David Cameron – whose governments were rocked in different ways last year by allegations of government snooping on internet communications. Privacy is expected to be a big theme at the CeBIT show.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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