Otonomo works with innovative companies that are developing applications, services, and crowdsourced insights based on car data, including ByMiles, Chargetrip, and Fleetmatica. We’ve seen these companies emerging not just in Silicon Valley but in Detroit, Munich, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Lithuania, and many other corners of the world. So it was interesting to compare the findings on interest in connected car services from our recent European consumer survey with findings from the survey of American car owners fielded in 2018.
European consumers express solid interest in a variety of services based on connected car data, but they do so in smaller numbers than what we saw with U.S. consumers in 2018. Some of these differences may be cultural, as Europeans tend to express less enthusiasm in all types of consumer research. The one exception to this trend, interest in trunk/ boot delivery, may reflect market maturity: Amazon had just announced this service a couple of weeks before the U.S. survey was fielded, so this was a very new concept.
Are European and American Consumers Willing to Share Personal Car Data for Services They Want?
When it comes to data privacy and protection, European consumers have a reputation for being more conservative than their American counterparts. This turns out to be true for car data as well. For those consumers who said they were “extremely,” “very,” or “quite” interested in a particular service, we asked if they would be willing to share their car data – that is, data specific to them – in order to get that feature. Up to 71% say yes, compared to 80% in our U.S. survey. We believe that GDPR, and the 20+ months of publicity, has played some role, along with the various high-profile data breaches that have occurred since the U.S. survey was fielded.
We did see some differences across European countries. For the majority of services, UK and Italian consumers express more willingness to share their data, while German consumers are less willing.
What About Aggregate or “Crowd” Car Data?
We asked our entire survey population if they would be willing to share their data to support services that provide more general benefits to society (not specific to the survey participant). About two-thirds (64%) were willing to do so for smart city applications for real-time traffic flow optimization, but this dropped to about half for smart city planning applications and only 42% for commercial location planning. This compares to 70-80% of U.S. consumers. (We can’t do a direct, application-by-application comparison because the questions were worded very differently in the two surveys. Furthermore, the U.S. survey specifically said that the proposed data sharing was anonymous while the European survey did not clearly state that.) We were surprised that Europeans did not see as much value as we expected in services that could make driving on the roads much easier.
What the Connected Car Ecosystem Should Do
Service providers and OEMs doing business in Europe cannot ignore the privacy concerns held by such a significant number of consumers. The ecosystem needs to take multiple steps to earn consumer trust and drive adoption of connected car use cases.
In addition, the ecosystem needs to clearly show the value of new applications based on connected car data. Some service providers may choose to prove their business models in the United States, where consumers may be more open to sharing car data.
Our full report includes more findings and discussion on this topic. If you haven’t yet done so, be sure to give it a read!