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Battling for the knowledge that controls the car

The value of the car is no longer merely associated with the car body, its engine or other material parts. Substantial value is found in the knowledge that controls the car – knowledge that does not only steer the car, but which may form the basis for maintenance and repairs planning, computing insurance premiums or indicating who is liable in the case of damage. In the future, being in the possession of such knowledge will undoubtedly be decisive for the delivery of competitive services within the transportation sector.
Driving Through Forest - Aerial View

The car does not drive by itself …

Automotive cars are in many ways a misleading term. True, automotive cars may drive without direct human intervention, but they do not by far go by themselves. Automotive cars depend on massive input. Such information is provided to the cars through sensors that map the surroundings. The information is then processed – aided by advanced algorithms – and eventually forms the basis for the choices that the car makes. It should also be mentioned that automotive cars would not have been possible without a wireless communication infrastructure, which it has taken society years and considerable costs to develop.

Many market players have invested in the technological solutions that make the cars automotive. However, not all of them may reap the fruits of their investments. The battle for the positions in this market started long since, but is not by far over.

Access to data

It’s all about access to data. That is, access to meaningful data. Access to data and access to knowledge are in principle not the same. The road from converting data into knowledge may be as long as it is costly.

So, how shall an undertaking proceed in order to secure access to the knowledge it requires in order to be competitive in the market, as a car manufacturer, insurance company or supplier of car parts or maintenance services?

Different points of departure – different interests

For undertakings that have already access to big sets of raw data, which is often the case for manufacturers of various technological solutions for the cars, their aim is to be able to commercialize this resource. It is all about securing their rights to utilise raw data and a fair consideration if others are granted access.

For undertakings that have no data of their own, their primary objective is to obtain access.  Some undertakings would want to make their own analysis and process the raw data, while others would primarily benefit from the knowledge they get from the analysis made by others.

Legislation and market control

It is not necessarily carte blanche when it comes to utilization of data generated from automotive cars. Data protection legislation sets the framework for gathering and using information that can be linked to an individual. Some of the data gathered by the car may be personal data.

Competition rules also put restrictions on the market. It is not unlikely that the authorities may intervene in case of a monopoly situation where one or a few market players are in possession of all or nearly all information. For market players that experience being denied access to such information, a possible strategy might be to call on the competition authorities

EU has recently expressed its concern that players could be excluded from the market because of no access to information from vehicles. EU points out brand name manufacturers that could achieve a considerable competitive advantage in comparison with independent manufacturers and workshops with regards to offering maintenance and repairs. Brand name manufacturers will have access to data from the car that can be used for tailoring this kind of services. In February this year EU took the first step with regard to regulating this field.

Conscious strategy required

Many if not all market players are affected by the development within artificial intelligence in the transportation sector. In order to be successful in this market, the undertaking must have continuous focus on how it shall secure access to relevant information and how to manage such information for the future.


This article was first published in Finansavisen, 22 October 2018.