Daimler, Volkswagen Urge Independence From Google Data Platform

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”

Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s ability, urging its fellow automakers to develop automotive data platforms that would secure sensitive customer information from the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant.

According to Bloomberg, VW boss Martin Winterkorn says that while his company seeks a connection with Google’s data systems, it still wants to have dominion over its own vehicles, citing “potential conflict” rising from making consumer data available to Google. Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche stated similar concerns with Google:

Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain. It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.

Zetsche also found the discussion of in-house data systems among automakers like his company and Volkswagen encouraging, proclaiming the move would maintain independence against the rising tide of “third parties,” such as Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s CarPlay and BlackBerry’s QNX OS, as it would “boost” Daimler’s position “when working with Google.”

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

More by Cameron Aubernon

Join the conversation
6 of 32 comments
  • Jvossman Jvossman on Nov 03, 2014

    Serious answer is that both are German based companies, where privacy is a big deal. I think this might a PR move trageting their domestic market. While most people say they don't want to share their personal data, if sharing the data enables their google maps enabled German car to avoid traffic jams better, I doubt they would care.

  • S2k Chris S2k Chris on Nov 03, 2014

    I just can never get super excited about "OMG I must maintain all secrecy around online activity!!" If you saw my browsing history, you'd determine I spend too much time on car forums and blogs, make bad jokes on facebook, buy mundane stuff on Amazon, and like college girl pr0n. God forbid anyone ever found out.

    • See 1 previous
    • Xeranar Xeranar on Nov 04, 2014

      @Fred I'll be straight with you my results on Google gave Pres. Obama a slightly more conservative bent with Rasmussen coming up near the top & my search for VW on DDG was completely generic since it had no idea where I was and simply filtered the top results rather than the top VW.com & then random dealers. I'm sure an in-depth research would show differences but it seems to just be a less aware version of Google's search.

  • Tedward Tedward on Nov 04, 2014

    This seems like the right kind of pushback to me. Leaving their consumers vulnerable to a change in policy in a third party vendor in regards to their privacy rights should be very worrying for manufacturers. Their existing data vendors operate under contracts that delineate exactly what happens to customer info. This industry runs on reputation more so than immediate results, for evidence look at how we all discuss reliability and service issues. On the other hand the manufacturers then have to let those vendors charge consumers directly, hence the rise of $200+ a year subscriptions for traffic, onstar type systems, satellite radio, navigation updates, and the list will grow. I personally really enjoy Google's free services and use their nav etc...but if management changes and they start selling my info to robocallers or whomever it would currently be easy for me to ditch them. If their systems are tied into a vehicle I own, not so much.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Nov 06, 2014

    The bottom line here is that VW and Daimler are balking at the notion of creating an environment where they make money when the vehicle is sold, but Google goes on to make money even after the sale and the maker doesn't. This is nominally about privacy but is actually about wanting to get a piece of the action.