Your car’s data may soon be more valuable than the car itself

Description:  People have made fortunes selling cars and trucks. For many of us, a car is the second most expensive thing we’ll ever buy. But experts say the value of vehicles will likely pale in comparison to the riches from our cars’ data.


Date: Feb 7, 2017


“Data is the currency of the digital age,” said Jim Barbaresso, who leads Intelligent Transportation Systems at HTNB. “Vehicle data could be the beginning of a modern day gold rush.”The gold rush analogy is a common one, made by everyone from Barbaresso to the CEO of Daimler. Here’s why there’s so much potential:

Cars increasingly have sensors and cameras to track their performance and their surroundings. Vehicle sensors, for example, can better tell when an engine part is in need of replacement. A back-up camera doesn’t just help us park, it can tell how many pedestrians or vehicles are on a block.

These sensors generate data, which can be analyzed to make money. (If you doubt the way data can be turned into money, just look at the success of Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB, Tech30). They offer free services to billions, and make a fortune off the data they collect.)


 Questions for discussion:

1. Why will car data be worth as or more than the actual self-driving car?

2.  Who should benefit or accrue the benefits of the data that your car collects?  Explain


63 thoughts on “Your car’s data may soon be more valuable than the car itself

  1. Karlie

    “Data is the currency of the digital age.” Which is unreal to think about, and how society has quickly advanced to capitalize on data and turn it into value. Car data is no different than phone data. It will allow for companies to personalize individuals wants and needs. With the development of self-driving cars on the rise, the data collected through car sensors, cameras, etc will be essential to allow for those cars to be successful. It’s no different than a Mac sending data errors when frozen or malfunctioning. The only one who should benefit from the data should be the companies. Since it’s their creation, so they should be provided with how they can improve their product. In turn, the company could sell off the data to other competitors to generate additional revenue, but by withholding the information then they will lose that competitive advantage. It’s hard to say how car data will be regulated, and how the pros and cons will fall. The digital age will continue to prosper, regardless of who will benefit and accrue from the data since the industry is constantly changing and innovations will be made by those entering the market, succeeding or failing in it. Overall, if the main focus of this data can be focused on the safety on and off the road through the driver, vehicle, pedestrians and other factors, then of course raw car data will be well valued. Safety is always the highest priority in any industry and auto companies who are known for minimal accidents, and take the time to do the research/analysis based on the collected data and invest in the engineering then consumers will follow, crash statistics will be reduced and less unexpected life threatening accidents will occur – however will the it be up to technology to perfect the safety of the road after several decades of accidents caused by human error? Will be interesting to see, that’s for sure.

  2. jordan kwiecinski

    The data provided from cars, in my opinion, will be worth more than the actual car itself. I believe this because car producers are using that information to improve their car’s so they can build more appealing and innovating car’s every year. Meaning the consumer is benefiting from the information their car is sending back to the producer by means of a better-delivered product. The benefit should be split between the consumer and the producer. An idea of this would be a discounts or rebates for the consumer who purchases the car to actually share and report on the car through year-end surveys that provide the producer a better sense of what they can improve. In turn, the producer can then make a better drive to which should encourage the consumer to purchase newer versions of the car which helps the producer.

  3. Luke B

    car data will be worth as much if not more than the self-driving car because it will provide so much potential information for new businesses opportunities within the automotive industry. For example, the article talks about utilizing data to come up with a parking “app”. This is a perfect example of a very real issue that many consumers face in which they would most likely be willing to pay for a solution. This is only possible via the collection of data. The organization in this industry who can find a way to collect this data and transform it into useful information that can be used to come up with innovations will make heaps of money. Other businesses will be willing to pay lots of money for this data so they can come up with their own innovations. As stated in the article volkow forecasts that they will make more money from selling vehicle data then the cars themselves. In my opinion, this is what they are getting at.

  4. Leonorah Chikukwa

    The article states that the data within these self-driving cars is very rich. Without this vehicle data then self-driving cars will not function
    Both the sellers and consumers will benefit from the data that your car collects. The consumer will have a vehicle that has data that will help them drive safe while the sellers make huge profit off these vehicles with such rich data. Sellers can also collect this data and use it to their advantage when customizing.

  5. Jessica L

    Vehicle data will be more valuable than a self driving car because of all of the other uses for it. The vehicle data that is collected contribute to self driving cars, but also can generate profit because that data can be sold to a myriad of different companies. In the article they mention how in a self driving cars there could be screens displaying advertisements for coffee shops or for TV shows in a self driving cars there could be screens displaying advertisements for coffee shops or for TV shows, but I don’t think that information is valuable only in a self driving car. The GPS units in vehicles track where they’re going and what they’re doing when. That information could be sold not only to advertising firms ( for example what to have on a billboard during different times of the day) but could also be used to send individualized advertisements to the registration address of the vehicle. Vehicles that consistently drive to national parks might receive the coupon in the mail for a discount on a park pass. Vehicles that drive through storms might receive an advertisement for a new car wash company. It is not a far stretch to think that our vehicles will become similar to our phones in the amount of information collected by them. From there, The selling of that data could be extremely valuable to certain companies within specific industries.

  6. Katie Bergeson

    Car data will be worth more than the actual self-driving car because of the data that the car can collect, about internal and external spaces. The car can sense how may other people are in the vicinity, what they are doing, and as a whole network, where people are going. In the internal environment of the car, it will collect data about the user. What are they doing instead of driving? Reading? What type of books? Watching a movie? What movies could be sold to them? Are they working? Do they need a coffee to continue working? The information that a car could collect about a person is endless, and many companies are willing to pay a lot of money for big data. Data like this can make marketing more efficient, as well as lead to further advances in better understanding all sorts of consumer wants and needs.
    Overall, the consumer should benefit from the data collected by the car. When the car finds a parking space, the consumer is benefiting. When the car selects a movie for the person to watch, assuming it can correctly identify consumer tastes, the consumer benefits from that as well. Not getting into crashes also benefits the consumer, because they don’t die. As far as economic benefits go, I think the money earned should be put towards developing “smart roads” for “smart cars” to drive on. I think there is a need in the world for more than pavement, and solar panel roads could solve both a non-renewable energy crisis, as well as help the self-driving car technology in many ways.

  7. Michael Isfeld

    The data that your car collects will be equal in worth or more than your car in the future because it gives invaluable data to businesses and marketers about where you go regularly. This data can be extrapolated for marketers to show regular spending habits. If companies can find out where certain demographics go and match those demographics with buyers of their products than they can set up advertisements where there will be the most traffic of relevant demographics. This will allow for more efficient advertising. It can also show prospective business owners the same type of data and give them a good idea of where to build a business and other places that may not be as profitable.

    I believe it should be the consumer who benefits from this collection of data. While this is unlikely to happen, I believe that there is a way where everyone can win. I believe that cars that track all your data should be sold at a discounted price. The discount in price should come from the money car companies will make selling the data collected from your vehicle. That way car companies can sell more cars (because of the reduced price) and be able to make more money selling the data to companies. However, this will probably never be a reality due to the fact that car companies most likely wouldn’t cut down the price of cars just because their making extra income from selling their consumers data to other businesses. So although I believe the consumer should benefit, I believe it will be businesses and mainly the car industry that inevitably benefit overall.

  8. Layla Lahiji

    The data collected from your car will soon be far more valuable than the car itself. Think about it, if the cars know who is in the car, where they’re going, and when they’ll be there, I can imagine there would be people who would pay good money for that information. Maybe the paparazzi looking for celebrities in these cars, protesters looking for politicians, gang members looking for targets… you get the picture. People could hack into the system and find all this information. Another, more realistic, aspect of the self-driving car would be the marketing potential associated with each vehicle. The car will eventually be able to learn your driving habits. Where you go for coffee, where you shop, and perhaps eventually it might even pick up what you put in your trunk — what brands, what items, and your preferences. That information can later be given to marketers or large companies to better target their audience and focus more on either regular customers or potential customers. Overtime, the value of the car will simply decrease, however the value of the data from the car will only increase. The longer the car is running, the more data it will accumulate, increasing the value to potential buyers.
    In my opinion, the owner of the vehicle should be able to benefit from the data given by the self-driving car. I also think it is important for the driver/owner to be able to control what the data is given or sold. The data collected from the car can be very invasive and may contain very personal information that should be protected and controlled.

  9. Amanda Brown

    Car data is going to be worth much more then the actual price of a self-driving car. This is because we are in an age where Big Data is sought after to give companies a competitive edge on identifying customer habits and niches. Car data has the potential to tell you what businesses a consumer is visiting most frequently, what roads they take, what music they’re listening to, if they have a baby car seat or if they frequently stop at fast food restaurants and eat on the go. All of this data no matter how insignificant it might seem makes a big difference when you compile it. This could give businesses insights on where to place adds on busy roads or insights into the customer’s personal life. When you have data such as this it allows you to customize your business for its target audience to increase sales.
    The people who should benefit from this data are the customer you might hope. However its probably the car company that is benefitting the most off of selling its customers data to Big Data hubs. Since companies are willing to pay a lot of money for data such as this the company is going to make more money off of your data then actually selling the car to you.

  10. mackenzie

    Self-driving cars are eventually going to take over the car market. These cars are already currently being tested in Pittsburgh. With self-driving cars it will make the roads a much safer place. This would reduce the amount of accidents that happen and it was also drastically reduce the amount if impaired drivers on the roads. This would be possible because now people do not have any inclination to drive home from the bar, their car can take them. This would also help with travel with babies. You would no longer have to stop every 30 minutes or hr to change a diaper or feed the baby. Car data will be worth just as much or more than the actual self-driving car because the car data has endless possibilities whereas the car is a one- time thing. Car data has helped in many aspects. From open parking spaces to how many people pass by on a street daily.

  11. Sandy Derksen

    Car data will be worth as much or more than the actual self-driving car because of the value placed on data technology today. As mentioned in the article, “Data is the currency of the digital age.” Data is so valuable in today’s world that the data will be worth more than the actual car. The data that will be equipped in self-driving cars such as futuristic cameras and sensors that allow drivers to know exactly where available parking spots are, back-up cameras that entail knowledge of how many pedestrians and vehicles are on one street, and many security and safety benefits, will allow businesses to analyze such information and make a lot money off of it. Vehicle data is necessary for self-driving cars to function. Without all the data, the vehicles are potentially worthless. The article describes how data in self-driving cars also has the potential to create a safe means of transportation on all roads. This means a $242 billion decrease in cost that goes to car accidents each year in the United States. This avoidance of car crashes allows for a major economic gain over time. However, there are some problem areas to be fixed where vehicle data is concerned. For instance, there will be so much data generated that it will not be able to be transferred wireless and companies will have to decide which data is most valuable.


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