Connected cars use telematics technology to transmit data, to communicate where the car has been, how fast it travels, the performance of its engine and whether it needs maintenance. In some cases, they are even relaying personal data of its occupants, like how heavy they are and the contacts in their mobile phone.
These advanced cars are on our roads now, and every day more and more connected cars are joining them. Australians need to understand the many benefits of this technology, but also the potential costs and disadvantages. Consumers expect to have a choice, when it comes to servicing and maintaining their vehicle. However, without proper regulatory controls there is a real risk independent repairers will be locked out of the market.
Car owners should always be provided with a written disclosure by vehicle brands, informing them what types of data is collected, stored or transmitted by their car, either directly or other technology such as a smart phone application.
Written approval should be required before any data collected from a car is shared with any third party. Car owners should not be penalised unreasonably, nor should it affect the safe operation of their vehicle if they refuse to consent to data being collected, stored or transmitted
Car owners should have the right to choose which third parties have access to their vehicle data, including third party repairers or roadside assistance providers.
What is a connected car?
A connected car refers to any vehicle that can connect with devices and networks as well as with third parties to provide information about the condition or operation of the vehicle or to assist the driver in safely operating the vehicle. This can include details about the driver/owner.
This includes Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V), or Vehicle to a third party such as your vehicle’s manufacturer.
‘Telematics’ is the technology behind connected vehicles. Originally coined to mean the convergence of telecommunications and information processing, the term has evolved to refer to all information sent to and from a vehicle.
What data is collected and/or transmitted?
The full extent of what information carmakers collect can vary but can include:
- Engine performance, including component maintenance of failures
- Seat belt use
- GPS location and speed
- Driving behaviour, such as erratic acceleration and excessive braking
- Occupant details, through sensors in the seats, seat belt and airbags
- Mobile phone use and personal information stored on the phone
This can be used to create a detailed profile of driver behaviour and habits, real-time vehicle location and direction, or the use of communication devices.
What are the advantages of connected cars?
Connected cars can be safer cars.
- On-road diagnostics and warnings can be simultaneously provided to the driver and a repairer to minimise damage, costs and help speed- up repairs.
- Connected cars can be tracked when broken down and you don’t know where you are. This can help road side assistance find you and to get you going again.
- In the event of an accident, emergency services can be alerted and find you and your car more quickly.
- Connected cars can obtain traffic reports to help avoid accidents, dangerous roads and traffic snarls.
What are the disadvantages of connected cars?
- You may not be able to choose who repairs your car. You may pay more for repairs and you may have no say in what information is collected about you, who sees it and what it is used for.
- Data collected by your car can include where your car goes, how fast you drive, how you drive, even personal details from your mobile phone.
- Your information might be sent to car makers and you may not be able to control what information is collected, who sees it or what it is used for.
- Your chosen repairer may not be able to access your car’s information and be unable to repair your car. You may have to take your car to repairers affiliated with the manufacturer and this could cost you more.
- Your preferred car club may not be able to access your car’s information and be unable to repair it on the roadside. This could leave you stranded or forced to have your vehicle taken to your car manufacturer’s service centre for repair, which might cost you more.
Why didn’t I know about this?
At the moment there is no standardised, customer-friendly way in which car makers are required to make customers aware of what data their new car may collect, where it is sent and who owns it. Many customers are signing away their rights to control the information their car collects on them at the time of purchase without even realising it.
This technology is relatively new and has left Australian privacy and fair trading laws behind.