A recent consumer study from Otonomo, fielded by Edison Research, showed that connected car owners and new car buyers place relatively high trust in automotive manufacturers today (see Figure 1). About 72% of drivers in our survey—71% of new car buyers and 77% of connected car owners—were confident or somewhat confident that automotive manufacturers would properly secure their data.

Figure 1

Figure 1.

The new ecosystems forming around connected cars make it critical for OEMs to keep this trust

However, the shift to connected cars has driven an explosion in the volume, velocity, and variety of data that automotive manufacturers must manage. Every day, startups and established companies are imagining new-mobility services that will use these data to make driving safer, more convenient, and more rewarding. And at the same time, data breaches in other industries continue to affect consumer confidence.


What companies are the best data stewards and why?

We then asked our survey respondents to name the company that they trust most to keep their personal information safe. See Figure 2 for the top answers we received.

Figure 2.

We then asked respondents what the particular company they named actually does to earn their trust. Surprisingly, close to 40% of our sample did not know or did not name an action that their trusted companies take. (See Figure 3.) The implication: given all of the controversies surrounding data privacy in general, automotive OEMs are going to have to educate their consumers if they want to build the most valuable ecosystem around connected cars.


What automotive OEMs can do

Here are ways that automotive OEMs can demonstrate their trustworthiness as data stewards to their customers.  

  1. Take an active role in standards development: In 2014, 20 automakers pledged to meet or exceed commitments contained in the Automotive Consumer Privacy Protection Principles, which were developed to protect personal information collected through in-car technologies. This was a very important first step in building consumer confidence, but even more needs to be done. In addition, the Future of Privacy Forum—which brings together industry, academics, consumer advocates, and other thought leaders to explore the challenges posed by technological innovation and develop privacy protections, ethical norms, and workable business practices—is a great partner and resource for standards development.

  2. Empower the Chief Security Officer: I’ve met some really impressive Chief Security Officers during my time at Otonomo. Given the right budget and resources, they can build the right security architecture to accommodate data from all sources within their vehicles and can implement business practices that enable granular consent management.

  3. Give drivers the transparency they want: It was clear from our study that transparency wins. Consumers want clear explanations of what data will be collected, how it will be used, and who will have access. A number of OEMs are starting to put very clear messaging on their screens explaining that they are using data and how it will be used. Here is an example of what those screens say: “Your vehicle wirelessly transmits recorded vehicle data for various purposes...including product evaluation, research and development. To limit transmission, go to the Settings page and select Data Transmission.”

  4. Partner with mobility services that adopt solid data security and consent management practices: Mobility services that use your connected car data do reflect on your brand. If there is a data breach, consumers will look to the original data source—their cars. Our consumer survey showed very high interest in mobility services based on connected car data. So partner, but partner well.