22 Feb 22

Access to connected car data key to new Block Exemption

Free access to connected car data has emerged as one of the key battlegrounds for the renewal of the Motor Vehicles Block Exemption Regulation (MV-BER), which governs vehicle distribution and maintenance in Europe.

The regulation is due to expire on May 31, 2023, and the European Commission announced recently that it will extend the current MV-BER for five years, but make some targeted updates to the Supplementary Guidelines that accompany it, following a three-year consultation exercise.  

The exemption from competition rules allows vehicle manufacturers to grant exclusive sales territories to authorised dealers to sell new vehicles and then service them. It should also ensure that independent garages have open access to vehicle diagnostic data and replacement parts.

Predictive maintenance

In the decade since the last MV-BER came into force, the vehicle servicing landscape has changed significantly. The development of connected vehicles means the importance of data has risen exponentially. Predictive and preventative maintenance hold huge potential for fleets and leasing companies to minimise service, maintenance and repair costs and reduce vehicle downtime.

Leaseurope, which represents automotive leasing and rental companies across the continent, wants a new MV-BER: “to ensure that leasing and rental companies, as well as other stakeholders in the motor vehicle aftermarket, have fair access to vehicle information to provide diagnostics, repair and maintenance.”

It argues that drivers are forced to accept OEM’s connectivity terms to access driver apps, which automatically direct them to the manufacturers’ dealer networks for maintenance. In addition, Leaseurope says encrypted software means only authorised dealers have the technology to turn off dashboard alerts for electric vehicles.

“The role of service providers like leasing and rental companies, need to be recognised and access to data needs to be adequately regulated, especially taking into account developments with regards to remote communications,” says Leaseurope. “Examples of technical information needed by fleet owners include: VIN number, mileage (odometer) reading, days to next maintenance service, miles to next maintenance service, longitude & latitude, EV’s battery status, G-forces [and] emission data.”

And it is not only leasing and rental companies that are campaigning for free access to connected vehicle data.

Dealers and repairers

CECRA, the European umbrella organisation for vehicle dealers and repairers, told the European Commission’s consultation exercise that: “The ongoing lack of access to in-vehicle data and functions increasingly jeopardises our ability to compete in digital products and services and to provide customers, both consumers and fleet owners/operators, with the digital services they expect.”

It highlighted in particular the difficulty of dealers and independent garages in gaining access to electric vehicle data, especially high-voltage battery related data.

“The available information is in most cases not sufficient to be able to evaluate the State of Health of the high-voltage battery. This will hamper the acceptance of the EV as an acceptable replacement for a combustion engine,” said CECRA.

European Commission response

In its Evaluation Report of the current MV-BER, Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, acknowledged the importance of access to data and pledged that the Commission is considering how to address these issues to ensure its competition rules remain fit for purpose in a rapidly changing automotive industry.

“Our evaluation… showed that we need to take into account the emergence of new technologies and the increasing role of data in competitive dynamics in this industry,” she said.

Any action is likely to take the form of limited and targeted updates to the Supplementary Guidelines that accompany the renewed MV-BER.

A spokesman for ACEA, the vehicle manufacturers’ association, told Fleet Europe: “ACEA finds this approach reasonable and is not asking for any changes to the Regulation.”

If you would like to learn moire about the Connected Fleet ecosystem, you can register for the upcoming Connected Fleets Conference on 28 and 29 March in Amsterdam. The conference will focus on the overarching topic: "Sustainable and Connected". All information about the event and registration details can be found here.  


Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning