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All businesses collect data in some way of course, but the volume of information and implications impacts the automotive industry in genuinely exciting ways.  

But we all know there are pitfalls. Gathering data brings challenges including physically accessing it in the first place, as well as harnessing it to provide useful insight.

It’s safe to say modern cars produce vast swathes of data. Everything from the vehicle’s ECU to sat-nav route guidance and live traffic data, to automated SMR alerts and vehicle tracking – it all adds up.  

This data mountain can be put into perspective with this simple fact: the space shuttle contained 500,000 lines of code, whereas a new car can contain upwards of 100 million lines.

But the burning question is: what is it being used for?

Today vehicles have in-built telemetry – or highly capable aftermarket solutions – that help carmakers understand how vehicles are being used, with every action transmitted in real-time from hundreds of sensors throughout the vehicle.

The upshot for OEMs is a rich insight into driver behaviour and customer needs, which can inform how they develop the cars and infrastructure of the future. With Connected cars and fully-autonomous technology steadily arriving onto our roads, that wealth of in-vehicle data is becoming fundamental.

By 2021, it’s expected that 98 per cent of new cars will be connected, each sending masses of live data during every journey.

This represents huge potential for the whole automotive industry – and drivers alike.

For example, it could be a game-changer for dealers, particularly when combined with knowledge of the owner. Being able to understand how drivers are using their cars or gaining insight into the health of their new vehicle would be a powerful tool for any dealership.

However, GDPR legislation has justifiably tightened how personal data can be used and shared, and consumers are wise to the value of their data. The benefits of sharing their data must be front and centre or they will refuse access.

For drivers, the benefits of sharing data with manufacturers or third-parties are plentiful; helping to navigate traffic hotspots, find a parking space, automatically pay tolls or alerting them when maintenance or repairs may be needed – and a whole lot more.

Yet, there is little incentive for manufacturers to want to share among the wider industry.

luckily, connected devices are readily available to dealers and fleets that, with the right platform, allow them to gather data to develop insight for their needs.

Advanced telemetry – like AX Connect – already transmits data from tens of thousands of courtesy cars and fleet vehicles to deliver deep insights into how they are are being used. For drivers, the result is a more personal experience; staff can see how a car is being used to tailor what they are offering – ultimately meaning buyers receive more thorough customer service.

Innovative automotive firms like AX can play an exciting role. Working alongside insurers, fleets, dealers and OEMs, it can help use data to improve sales, customers service, vehicle protection, tracking and accident aftercare.  

While experts can only guess at its potential, what we do know is consumers are more aware of the power of their personal data and will need to see the benefits to make opting in worthwhile.

In what areas of the auto sector will data have the greatest impact do you think?