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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Why car servicing costs could be about to rise

Date: 02-Mar-2017

The BBC has published an interview with FIGIEFA's Neil Pattemore on how the discussions on who should have access to all the data new cars generate are becoming more heated.

Manufacturers want to have total control, but independent repair shops, fleet operators, insurance companies and anyone else who could benefit from this data, argue that this would be blatantly anti-competitive.  Policy-makers in the European Union are currently wrestling with the issue.

Car servicing costs could become more expensive and it may be necessary to pay more for other services that rely on such data, from independent repair centres to "pay-as-you-drive" insurance companies.

Modern cars are effectively computers on wheels, full of sensors measuring everything from the wear and tear on your brake pads to fuel efficiency.
They are capable of communicating wirelessly with manufacturers, traffic management systems, and other vehicles in real time.

Thus the car's manufacturer probably knows where it's been, how fast it was driven, and how soon long before it is likely to need a service, and wants to turn this knowledge in to money.

"While the manufacturer is monitoring the car, it has the power to recommend its own spare parts. This is a privileged position and would distort the market," says Neil Pattemore, technical director at FIGIEFA, the European association representing car parts retailers and repair shops.

"We exist to offer consumers choice - it's about freedom of where you want to get your car repaired."

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) is arguing that car makers should be allowed to send all this "in-vehicle" data to their own cloud platforms and control who has access to it and under what terms.

Allowing "direct third-party access to vehicular electronic systems would jeopardise safety, (cyber)security and vehicle integrity", it argues.

They also fear that allowing third parties to peer in to their cars' "brains" would jeopardise "trade secrets, know-how or information covered by intellectual property rights".

But a growing number of industry bodies think this has more to do with manufacturers trying to control a potentially lucrative business.

At the moment all cars have to have an onboard diagnostic (OBD) port. This allows mechanics to plug in a cable and access the data stored in the car's computer or electronic control unit (ECU).

Under European law every manufacturer has to fit one, primarily so testers can gain access to emissions data and check that the vehicles comply with pollution regulations.

But, obviously, mechanics can only access the OBD when the vehicle is stationary. So unless they can access this diagnostics data wirelessly, they say they will be at a competitive disadvantage.

The ACEA says manufacturers would be prepared to share this kind of data with third parties through their own cloud servers or via "neutral" servers operated by other companies.

The aftermarket industry wants equal access to this wireless in-vehicle data and believes the technology is already here that could provide it securely.

Public cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure run programs called hypervisors that create virtual machines on computer servers. These virtual machines enable many different clients to store their data safely and separately on one computer, thereby saving computing resources.

"Cars could also run hypervisors that allow virtual environments and enable third parties to access car data in a safe and secure way," says FIGIEFA's Mr Pattemore.

Several other industry bodies - Cecra, FiA, ADPA, Leaseurope and others - agree, saying that an "in-vehicle interoperable, standardised, secure and open-access platform" would be preferable to preserve a competitive market.

To read the whole BBC article CLICK HERE.

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