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Keep away from car data: Benz and VW tell Google

Smart money: In-car systems such as Google’s Android Auto allow drivers to ‘project’ their smartphone screens onto the car’s display and access apps.

Mercedes-Benz and VW warn of the risks of giving Google access to vehicle data

3 Nov 2014

MERCEDES-BENZ and Volkswagen bosses have warned other car-makers of unintentionally allowing Google to collect vehicle information through Android Auto.

Speaking at the Handelsblatt Automotive Summit in Munich, Volkswagen chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said he wanted to keep the connectivity system but did not want Google to have access to the car’s data.

“We seek connection to Google’s data systems but we still want to be the masters of our own cars,” he said.

“Potential conflict arises around making data available.”

Also attending the summit was Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche who agreed, saying giving away information that could be used for commercial gain put car-makers in danger of becoming “third parties” and vehicles should store and process data on a separate secure platform.

“Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain,” he said.

“It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.”

Unveiled in June this year, Android Auto allows drivers to ‘project’ their smart phone’s display onto the car’s touch screen and use many of the applications including navigation and music streaming with voice commands.

Car-makers have welcomed its arrival as it means they don’t have to equip their vehicles with features such as navigation.

Expected to appear in vehicles before the end of the year, car-makers that have already signed up for Android Auto include Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Ram, Renault, Seat, Skoda, Subaru, Suzuki, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Apple also has an in-car system called CarPlay which will be rolled out next year. Some manufacturers such as Honda and Hyundai have chosen to offer both CarPlay and Android Auto.

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