BMW and Amazon Partner Up to Swipe Your Data

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Amazon Web Services and BMW are reportedly joining forces to establish a new cloud-based software designed to deliver and manage the data amassed by connected vehicles – which is great news if you happen not to value your privacy.

The software was designed to aggregate vehicle data from a myriad of sources faster than anything that’s currently available. While that opens up questions about where all that data goes (selling it to third parties is always popular) it is also supposed to help BMW develop new features on a shorter timeline and allow for greater vehicle customization between users.

Your author recently published a piece outlining Hyundai Motor Group’s corporate strategy involving connected vehicles, subscription fees, and data harvesting – noting that similar schemes were becoming commonplace across numerous industries. But the sudden push coming from automakers over the last several years has been as impressive as it is alarming. Peter Sondergaard claimed that "Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine,” in 2011 and automakers seemed to have taken those words and applied them almost literally shortly thereafter. 

We’re starting to see the practical application of this logic cropping up in modern-day vehicles. This includes BMW, making the partnership with Amazon (something that’s fairly common among big companies) more-or-less a continuation of what the whole industry has already been doing. 

According to Automotive News, the software in question compiles vehicle data in real-time to help speed up the development of new features and aid with the management of automotive software. These alleged benefits mean BMW should see quicker turnaround times on features it wants to implement, which are then offered to the driver via over-the-air updates. Amazon Web Services added that the software also “examines the health of the source and manages access to the data to meet governance policies.”

To clarify, this means all the harvested information meets Amazon’s privacy requirements and individual client preferences. But the tech giant hasn’t had the best record in terms of data breaches and there’s something slightly insidious about one of the world’s largest companies having direct access to mountains of personal information. Though Amazon Web Services was keen to suggest that data would be protected, stating that the software’s processing capabilities (e.g. analytics, machine learning, and computing) would only be made available to “specialists” working in BMW Group divisions like data science, artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and vehicle application development. 

Nicolai Krämer, vice president of Vehicle Connectivity Platforms for BMW Group, claimed the new software would allow the company to process three times the vehicle data vs the current generation of connected BMW vehicles. 

While the German automaker gets to take advantage of Amazon's new software first, it won't reach full maturity until it's been integrated into BMW's upcoming "Neue Klasse" series of all-electric vehicles. Afterward, the tech company said it'll begin offering the software to other auto manufacturers. Assuming it delivers everything that’s been promised above, odds are good they’ll be plenty of takers. Meanwhile, I’ve started reading up on how to permanently disable various connectivity features on a swath of modern cars. 

[Image: Sklo Studio/Shutterstock]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
3 of 10 comments
  • 95_SC 95_SC on Oct 17, 2022

    Amazon is among the worst and most intrusive when it comes to harvesting and sharing data. Furthermore among the big 3 tech companies, there automotive interface is by far THE WORST. There is no win for the vehicle owner on this one.

  • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Oct 18, 2022

    "Meanwhile, I’ve started reading up on how to permanently disable various connectivity features on a swath of modern cars. "

    The demand for such a service is growing with more realizing they don't want their privacy swiped by their whip.

    • Mcs Mcs on Oct 18, 2022

      One easy way is to buy certain brands from any dealer located in Massachusetts. Because of the right-to-repair law there, some manufacturers are disconnecting the connectivity features. Subaru for one.

  • Dartdude They need to rebrand the models, The standard model should be Wagoneer and long version should be Grand Wagoneer. There should offer the Ram Rev powertrain in these
  • Irvingklaws Seems more like they're adopting Honda styling queues. Now if they would just adopt their reliability...
  • FreedMike "Obsidian Edition."Oooooh, obsidian is really, really hard stuff.
  • John The awesome Infiniti G series saved this company 20 years ago, but they are right back on track to obsolescence. (yawn)
  • Teddyc73 White with black wheels, I'm so sick of. Or dull grey and black wheels. Just stop.