Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: April 26, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini

Sector urges the automotive industry not to lose focus on the privacy and security of data in EVs

Is the industry fully assessing the impact of integrating increasingly complex "computers" into vehicles? It's no longer just about building a vehicle, according to Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse, Founder and Partner at Otte AS.
Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse, Founder and Partner at Otte, during the Nordic EV Summit.

Onboard connectivity is a crucial factor for many customers when purchasing a vehicle, leading manufacturers to increasingly incorporate options in this regard.

Meanwhile, other users avoid this technology due to concerns about data transmission and exchange.

Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse, Founder and Partner at Otte.
Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse, Founder and Partner at Otte.

During the Nordic EV Summit, Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse, Founder and Partner at Otte, indicates that one of the big questions in this industry is “whether people really understand the consequences of building computers instead of cars.”

And he explains: “People still believe they are building cars with some computers connected to them.”

This implies that initially, manufacturers began to add technologies to the car and some additional functionalities that consumers were demanding.

However, over time, these innovations have evolved increasingly and become more complex.

So, is the industry really evaluating the impact or consequences of incorporating “computers” with increasingly more functionalities? Since it’s no longer “just” about building a vehicle, but involves other aspects to consider, such as the privacy and security of the data mentioned by Waterhouse.

In the last year, the eMobility market experienced significant growth.

According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), more than one in five vehicles sold worldwide this year is expected to be electric.

The growing demand over the next decade is also expected to reshape the global automotive industry.

This growth is based on a record-breaking 2023, where global sales of electric cars surged by 35 per cent to nearly 14 million.

The demand remained largely concentrated in China, Europe, and the United States.

The study also predicts that, under current policies, one in every two cars sold worldwide will be electric by 2035.

As a result, this trend has triggered a competition among manufacturers to offer the most innovative options on the market.

However, what could be the consequences of this technological race?

“The conclusion is quite simple: none of the major players are doing things anywhere near how they should be done when it comes to data,” emphasizes Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse.

In response to this, the European Commission has announced that it is investigating the cybersecurity aspects of connected and automated vehicles, including electric cars, as a priority issue.

This approach will not only enable progress towards a sustainable mobility and transport sector, but also an intelligent and inclusive one.

In this regard, the expert argues that one of the main challenges in all of this is regulating the relationship between the different market actors, whether producers, sales companies, car owners, among others.

But what is the main concern?

“Although the car itself may not know who is in it, the data is connected, for better or for worse,” he explains.

Therefore, the specialist highlights the importance of ensuring that the collection of data by those involved in car manufacturing is secure enough.

Not only for the well-being of customers, but also for the future of business models and the value of companies.

Otherwise, “we run the risk of regulations that could close revenue streams and mean a market setback.”

However, one of the big problems is who actually owns this data.

Authorities in Chengdu, China, for example, have told officials to block the entry of Teslas in some areas related to the World University Games due to concerns about the collection of confidential data through cameras integrated in the vehicles.

However, when it comes to implementing regulations in Europe, the expert emphasizes the importance of allowing for more effective use of data, similar to what has been done with the safety provision that states that all new cars sold in the European territory must have Event Data Recorders (EDRs).

This is a recording unit that is responsible for storing critical vehicle information.

In the event of an accident, experts can use this to obtain details about the circumstances that caused it.

“The issue is trying to reduce the amount of personal data and increase the amount of ‘just data’,” says Torgeir Andrew Waterhouse.

And he adds: “That’s the interest, that’s the value, and that’s the way forward.”

Regarding this, he assures that, although it may seem easy today and then not see many problems, “problems will arise, they can get ugly.”

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