Message from the Secretary General - October 2016

While digital innovation in the automotive industry has traditionally focused on optimising the vehicle’s internal functions, attention is now turning to developing the car’s ability to connect with the outside world (including infrastructure, third-party services and of course other vehicles), as well as to the introduction of vehicles with increasing levels of automated-driving functions.

Indeed, connected and automated driving is rapidly shaping the automobile industry's future, thereby creating new areas of business with new players and thus also impacting existing business models. These innovations promise a new era of safe, efficient, comfortable and environmentally-friendly mobility. 

Everyone seems to recognise their potential, but while some are already dreaming of fully-automated cars on our roads by the end of this decade, the barriers on the road ahead actually provide a confronting reality check. Clearly, the automotive industry cannot address these challenges without close collaboration with Europe’s telecom operators – who will have to provide the necessary communications infrastructure, full network coverage and bandwidth for millions of cars. Nor can we shape the market uptake of connected and automated vehicles without the help of policy makers, who are in a position to introduce supportive policies and create the right regulatory framework.

So when Commissioner Oettinger, in charge of the EU’s digital economy and society, initiated the first Round Table on Connected and Automated Driving last year, ACEA was among the first to join. One year on, this EU cross-industry dialogue has now been formalised in the shape of the European Automotive-Telecom Alliance, which was launched at the Paris Motor Show a few weeks ago. Besides ACEA, the Alliance compromises five other leading sectorial associations – representing 37 companies, including some of Europe’s largest telecoms companies, automotive suppliers and all of ACEA’s members. Together, the members of the Alliance are committed to promoting the wider deployment of connected and automated driving in Europe through a comprehensive, large-scale and cross-border approach. As its first concrete step, the Alliance will be setting up a ‘pre-deployment project’ aimed at testing three major use-case categories through a series of joint pilot projects.

The first category of projects will look into everything that is instrumental to automated driving, covering for example truck platooning and high-definition maps, but also various degrees of vehicle automation. Road safety and traffic efficiency will be in the focus of the second group, which will cover ways to optimise traffic flows in smart cities. The third major pillar will examine the digitalisation of transport and logistics, including the application of remote-sensing and data-management technologies. The main objective of the tests is to find out how we can implement these technologies flawlessly across Europe.

These pilots should help to address important issues like cross-border interoperability, as well as to identify the investments in infrastructure that are necessary to meet connectivity needs and to improve safety and security. Besides looking at technical issues, the pre-deployment project will also contribute to addressing regulatory roadblocks at the local, national and EU level, which need to be overcome if we want Europe to take the lead in the fields of connectivity and automation. At the same time, these pilot projects will help to develop the basic business models that sectors can deploy to recoup some of the major investments that are required for the wide-scale introduction of these technologies.

In parallel to this fruitful exchange with our counterparts in the telecoms sector, Europe’s vehicle manufacturers are also engaging in a wider dialogue to address one of the key issues that is set to shape the future of connected and automated driving: data. Policy matters that need be addressed in this field include fair competition, data protection and privacy, cybersecurity, liability, and third-party access to data.

The interest of third-party service providers and new competitors in accessing vehicle data and using them for commercial purposes is an issue that requires particular attention. After all, vehicle manufacturers invest heavily in the ability of vehicles to generate data and are ultimately responsible for ensuring the vehicle’s safety and integrity as well as the protection of the user’s personal data and privacy.

That’s why ACEA is organising a conference entitled 'Smart cars: Driven by data' in early December. At this event we will bring high-level representatives of the automotive industry together with those representing telecoms operators, European institutions, industry associations, technology companies and consumer organisations. Through lively panel discussions with these stakeholders, as well as various keynote speeches, crucial data-related questions will be up for debate. These topical questions include amongst others:

  • Who owns the data that is generated by vehicles?
  • What digital infrastructure will be needed for the cars of the future?
  • How can this data be shared in a controlled and secure manner?
  • How can we best secure personal data?

So, make sure to mark Thursday 1 December in your calendar for our 'Smart cars: Driven by data' conference! You can register for the event by clicking here.

Erik Jonnaert
Secretary General of ACEA

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