BMW and Amazon Partner Up to Swipe Your Data

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bmw and amazon partner up to swipe your data

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]

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3 of 10 comments
  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay 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.

  • Varezhka Given how long the Mitsubishi USA has been in red, that's a hard one. I mean, this company has been losing money in all regions *except* SE Asia and Oceania ever since they lost the commercial division to Daimler.I think the only reason we still have the brand is A) Mitsubishi conglomerate's pride won't allow it B) US still a source of large volume for the company, even if they lose money on each one and C) it cost too much money to pull out and no one wants to take responsibility. If I was the head of Mitsubishi's North American operation and retreat was not an option, I think my best bet would be to reduce overhead by replacing all the cars with rebadged Nissans built in Tennessee and Mexico.As much as I'd like to see the return of Triton, Pajero Sport (Montero Sport to you and me), and Delica I'm sure that's more nostalgia and grass is greener thing than anything else.
  • Varezhka If there's one (small) downside to the dealer not being allowed to sell above MSRP, it's that now we get a lot of people signing up for the car with zero intention of keeping the car they bought. We end up with a lot of "lightly used" examples on sale for a huge mark-up, including those self-purchased by the dealerships themselves. I'm sure this is what we'll end up seeing with GR Corolla in Japan as well.This is also why the Land Cruiser has a 4 year waitlist in Japan (36K USD starting MSRP -> buy and immediately flip for 10, 20K more -> profit) I'm not sure if there's a good solution for this apart from setting the MSRP higher to match what the market allows, though this lottery system is probably as close as we can get.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Unrelated to this article but of interest I found this on You Tube which explains why certain vehicles are not available in the US because of how the CAFE measures fuel standards. I remember you commenting on this a few years ago on another article on TTAC. The 2023 Chevrolet Montana is an adorable small truck that's never coming to the USA. It's not because of the 1.2L engine, or that Americans aren't interested in small trucks, it's that fuel economy legislation effectively prevents small trucks from happening. What about the Maverick? It's not as small as you think. CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the real reason trucks in America are all at least a specific dimension. Here's how it works and why it means no tiny trucks for us.
  • Gabe A new retro-styled Montero as their halo vehicle to compete against the Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner. Boxy, round headlights like the 1st generation, two door and four door models, body on frame.A compact, urban truck, Mighty Max, to compete against the Maverick. Retro-styled like the early 90s Mighty Max.A new Outlander Sport as more of a wagon/crossover to compete against the Crosstrek and Kona. Needs to have more power (190+ HP) and a legit transmission, no CVT.A new Eclipse hybrid to compete against the upcoming redesigned Prius. Just match the Prius's specs and make it look great.Drop the Eclipse Cross, I am not sure why they wanted to resurrect the Pontiac Aztec. Keep the Mirage and keep it cheap, make the styling better and up the wheel size. The Outlander seems fine.I like the idea of some sort of commercial vehicle, something similar in size to the Promaster City but with AWD.
  • El scotto Will Ford ever stop putting a V-8 in Mustang GT's? Not as long as Bill Ford is around. I haven't shopped for an F-150 in years; can you still get a V-8 in one? Y'all have that one pair of really comfortable shoes you wear when you go shopping? Not buying gas and low maintenance will make EVs your comfortable shoes. Virtual signalling? Naw, they're slip-ons.