3 Apr 23

Lease cos call on EC for urgent access to in-vehicle data

A powerful consortium of vehicle leasing and rental companies, dealerships, garage workshops, insurers and repairers have joined forces to call on the European Commission to accelerate new legislation that will support open access to connected vehicle data.

Representative bodies, such as Lease Europe, Insurance Europe and Cecra, as well as companies like ALD and Michelin, are campaigning for the urgent introduction of the proposed Data Act, following lengthy delays in its implementation.

The act aims to remove barriers to access data, and give both businesses, including fleets, as well as individuals, more control over their vehicle data.

Delays in legislation

But two years after the Commission originally scheduled this legislation for adoption in 2021 the law has still not been passed.

Tim Albertsen, Group CEO, ALD Automotive, stated: “As we move to a world where the on-board computing power of the vehicle will grow exponentially, our duty, as a leading global mobility provider, is to deliver greener and more efficient mobility solutions by investing in new connected car services. This requires having equitable access to the data generated by the vehicles we own.

“We can only do this with clear rules to ensure fair competition amongst all market players. Failure to establish sector-specific legislation for access to in-vehicle data act would be a huge, missed opportunity and highly detrimental for European investment, innovation, jobs and competitiveness.”

Vehicle owners not OEMs decide access to data

Agustín Reyna, Director of Legal and Economic Affairs at the European consumer organisation, BEUC, said consumers not car manufacturers should decide who has access to in-vehicle data

“With data being the new gold mine for car makers, making them the gatekeepers of drivers’ and their cars’ data is highly problematic,” he said. “The car industry has long opposed any measures that would undermine their monopoly over car data, and this must stop in the interest of competition in after-sales and related mobility services and, ultimately, consumers.”

Automotive sector-specific law

This requires a legally-binding regulation specific to the automotive sector, to guarantee vehicles owners’ freedom of choice and fair competition, according to Lorraine Frega, Executive Vice President Michelin.

“As a major player in connected mobility, Michelin is asking for a level playing field to be able to continue investing and offering European consumers innovative and sustainable digital mobility services.”

Data Act consultation process

A year ago, in March 2022, the European Commission launched a consultation, calling for evidence about access to vehicle data.

“The Data Act will have a major impact on the mobility ecosystem, boosting innovation and competition in aftermarkets, other automotive or electric vehicles related services,” it said. “However, this might need to be complemented by more specific provisions for the automotive sector.”

Why connected data is important

As early as 2018, 85% of new cars sold in Europe were connected wirelessly, opening opportunities such as:

  • Access to functions such as remote door unlocking for car sharing.
  • Proactive and preventative maintenance.
  • Remote diagnostic and over-the-air fixes and updates.
  • Pay-as-you-drive insurance.
  • Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid charging.

ALD, Arval, LeasePlan

“Companies in the rental and leasing sector should be enabled to play a key role in delivering these services to customers, and promote a more ‘joined up’ approach between drivers, fleet operators and individual lessors, and OEMs,” said a consortium of ALD, Arval and Leaseplan in response to the consultation. “Enabling rental and leasing companies to use the data generated by the ‘connected car’ will maximise efficiency and quality of service, increase driver safety by reducing accidents, promote environment-friendly driving due to CO2 monitoring and alternative mobility solutions, all whilst reducing costs for customers, and ensuring that such services can be offered across all vehicle brands.”

They also warned of the risk that unless fair access to data (hosted by a neutral, non-proprietary server) is guaranteed, then technological advances will instead lead to reduced customer choice, higher prices, weaker innovation and a less competitive mobility value chain.

The three leasing companies said some vehicle manufacturers are prepared to share data, such as service data, provided the work is channelled through their franchised dealers, while others will share data (typically a very limited dataset) in return for a fee that disincentivises investment in connected vehicle services.

“Some OEMs flatly refuse to share any data with rental and leasing companies. OEMs sometimes argue that they are unable to share data because it is the property of the end user / driver. However, this is a false argument: the rental / leasing company is the owner of the vehicle in question, and therefore has a legitimate interest in data relating to its performance and condition. Indeed, vehicle leasing companies have been specifically recognised as being ‘end users’ in the Commission’s Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation,” said ALD, Arval and Leaseplan.

EC response

Responding to the latest call for the urgent implementation of the Data Act, Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, tweeted last week: “With the Data Act, we are creating a thriving data economy that is innovative and open — on our conditions and in line with our European values. Constructive 1st trilogue today with EU Parliament and Presidency of the Council. Counting on a swift agreement!”

OEMs fight back

Last year, ACEA, the European automobile manufacturers’ association, said it welcomed the objective of the Data Act to put consumers at the centre of the data-sharing process, with customers having to give permission for their data to be shared with third parties.

It also accepted the proposal to enable: “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory access to data across all sectors of the data economy.”

However, ACEA also insisted that: “Users who are companies making commercial use of the products from which the data is generated, and that intend to use this data for commercial purposes, should not be entitled to access this data free of charge.”

It also said third-party data users should not be able to use in-vehicle data obtained from an OEM: “To develop a related service that competes with the product, or with the related service, from which the data originates.”

And it proposed that the Data Act should only apply 36 months after it comes into force, adding further delays for the coalition of bodies that want to use the data.


*The 11 coalition parties that wrote to the European Commission are: ADPA, AIRC, BEUC, CECRA, CLEPA, EGEA, ETRMA, FIA, FIGIEFA, Insurance Europe, and Lease Europe.

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning