The future of connected cars is set to significantly impact the fleet and leasing industry.
– John Pryor, ACFO Chairman
On Thursday 18 May, 2017, Sandicliffe Motor Contracts attended the ACFO Spring Seminar at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire.
ACFO is the UK’s premier representative organisation for fleet decision-makers, and exists to help these decision-makers to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their fleet. As a member of ACFO, we were delighted to attend the seminar and learn more about the future of fleet, taking a close look at connected cars and the generation of ‘big data’. To help attendees gain a deeper insight into this impact, experts from across the fleet industry gave their views.
Before getting stuck into connected cars, Matt Rance, Product Manager from Audi UK, discussed new models being released in 2017, and how Audi are planning ahead for 2018. Looking to add even more comfort to their range, with cruise control and rear parking sensors becoming standard on each model.
The Manufacture View
Staying with Audi, Nick Mitchell, Service and Technical Manager, presented the impacts of connected cars on manufacturers.
He discussed how cars are transforming from just a status symbol to a mobile phone as cars become more connected. This isn’t just something that is occurring the fleet industry; connected technology has seen an emergence in recent years as things look to become ‘uberfied’. People can now even tell their oven to turn itself on via the touch of a button, or change the heating from their smartphone.
This is being transferred to car technology. There is a growing demand for manufacturers to produce connected cars, and autonomous cars. But what how do they want cars to be connected?
Audi have developed features such as eCall, which should the driver be in an accident, sends an instant response to Bosch, who can then contact the emergency services if the situation requires. Moreover, Audi cars will be able to inform you of fuel prices, flight, and train information all from behind the wheel.
Additionally, he discussed how, through a smartphone, drivers may be able to change certain elements of the car. This is already in place for some manufacturers, as some can change the temperature in the car from the comfort of their homes. However, in the future, people may be able to add extra horse power to the car overnight.
The Leasing View
After a quick coffee break, it was over to the experts to discuss the challenges facing leasing providers from the emergence of connected cars and ‘big data’.
Data is important for fleet decision-makers, as it provides confidence around efficiency, and how their fleet is performing. It also enables fleet decision-makers to track performance, so should a fleet be underperforming, you can identify ways of improving this.
Although there are numerous benefits to connected cars, for leasing providers, there are still many challenges that need to be addressed.
The problem with the ability to change certain features on the car presents a danger for car contracts. Changing the horse power for example may increase CO2 emissions, which will have a knock-on effect on road tax. The difficulty here is how will the HMRC be informed of this, and how will this impact the contract to reflect these changes?
Moreover, included in the contract is usually breakdown cover. If you were unfortunate to have an accident in your connected car, then the manufacturer would call their chosen breakdown assistant, which may not be the one included in the contract. As a result, any fee you pay may not be included in the contract and therefore your leasing company wouldn’t cover you.
Another challenge is data protection. As a lot of data from the driver may be transferred to the car, a data breach could have very damaging implications. Currently, the data breach would sit with the leasing provider.
The Legal View
Alex Ktorides, partner at legal firm Gordon Dadds, tackled the legal issues of connected cars and ‘big data’ at the seminar.
He reinforced the importance of ensuring security measures are in place to cope with connected cars and big data. The amount of information and data that connected cars will generate make it crucial to ensure that they’re ethically handled.
He advised businesses to update employment contracts, terms and conditions, and codes of conduct to reflect the new world of ‘big data’. The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25, 2018, will have a potentially large impact for the fleet introduction of connected cars. GDPR builds on the existing data protection legislation but with a particular focus on digitalisation and technology.
The key message from Alex was the need for transparency of the data. It is important that, whatever data you collect, you’re open and honest about how you use it. Connected cars are likely to generate huge amounts of data and the question is what happens to the data.
Today’s connectivity is the start of the journey towards autonomous cars, and whilst growing technology presents obvious benefits, it is important to remember the challenges facing the fleet industry.
For more information or advice on how Connected Cars could impact your fleet, contact us on: