Driving Dystopias: China Doesn't Sound Terribly Fun

With China having become the world’s largest automotive market by individual sales, it’s worth keeping tabs on it for burgeoning driving trends. While that’s predominantly revolved around electric vehicles, the People’s Republic also has pretty strict driving rules backed by some of the tightest monitoring of a civilian population imaginable. China is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens and is adapting it for use in its new “social credit system,” which sounds like the most Orwellian thing in existence.

The system is intended to publicly shame criminals, debtors, jaywalkers, and those with “controversial” political views while monitoring their every move but it’s also doing a fine job of making life harder for drivers.

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Wrecked Cars Are Now a Treasure Trove of Personal Information

As cars grow more dependent upon computer-controlled driving aids and automakers implement permanent internet connectivity, we’ve grown increasingly concerned with how automakers handle their customer’s data.

It sounds conspiratorial, but there’s a series of events to hang the tinfoil hat on. In 2017, General Motors announced it had successfully monitored the listening habits of 90,000 motorists in a study aimed at improving marketing insights. It also rejiggered OnStar and introduced the Marketplace app for seamless in-car purchasing options. Our take was that it was as impressive as it was ominous — and GM is only leading the charge into a what analysts believe will eventually become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Naturally, this led to privacy concerns over how automakers will protect customer data on future models. But we might want to start worrying about the cars we have now. A couple of white-hat hackers (those are the good ones) recently probed the internal computer networks of wrecked and salvaged Teslas and found a mother lode of personal information waiting inside.

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Opening Pandora's Box: GM Tracking Consumer Listening Behavior in Cars

General Motors has begun surveying how its drivers experience in-car multimedia, specifically the radio, as part of its new strategy to track customer habits and maximize the profitability of information. With 4G LTE WiFi connectivity now featured inside millions of GM vehicles, the automaker believes technology can be used to fine tune its future marketing strategies.

While an invaluable insight tool for advertisers, it’s also the perfect example of the kind of thing we’ve been complaining about for the last couple of years. General Motors is leaning into Big Data as hard as possible, meaning your personal information could soon be on the line — if it isn’t already.

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Ford to Launch Data Monitoring/Analytics Program on Commercial Fleets

We’ve prattled on before about how General Motors sees data mining as its next big business opportunity. While much of our take focused on the risk that customers might lose their privacy and become both commodity and consumer, it would be stupid to suggest it isn’t also a highly lucrative business strategy.

Social media outlets sell your personal information on a daily basis and other industries see potential in that. GM isn’t the only automaker jumping on the bandwagon, it’s simply the one with the most transparent blueprint.

Ford recently opened up about its own data strategy. The company previously announced large investments into data centers, stating its intent to equip 90 percent of its global fleet with modem connectivity by 2020. Ford Smart Mobility was also reorganized earlier this year, an effort that included the acquisition of two tech firms focused on transit data. The automaker split the group to focus on key areas: transportation data, marketing, tech development, and the management of previously established programs like FordPass and Chariot.

Ford obviously had a plan in the works for a while, but we didn’t know exactly what Ford’s execution would look like until now.

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The Difference Between Ford and General Motors' Longterm Strategies

While General Motors has become progressively more brazen in outlining its plans for the future, Ford has kept its cards a bit closer to the chest. We do know both companies have similar long-term goals, but Ford has been (rather wisely) preoccupied, adjusting its fleet to meet global demand and ensuring production flexibilities that should prevent it from being caught off guard by an industry turnaround.

It’s interesting because, a little over a year ago, former Ford CEO Mark Fields was promising a complete evolution of the automaker into something called “a mobility company.” However, it now looks as if GM is the firm making a beeline toward alternative revenue streams and a new business model, while Ford takes a more measured approach.

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GM Adds Digital Marketplace to Its Vehicles for Onboard Purchasing

General Motors has announced it is the first automaker with its very own in-car commerce platform. We aren’t the least bit surprised.

In fact, we’ve been waiting for GM to announce something like this ever since it expressed an interest in using OnStar to deliver “personalized marketing offers” a little over a year ago. Since then, the manufacturer has also indicated plans to create an app store accessible from a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as use driver data acquisition as a possible revenue source.

While GM isn’t the only company taking this path, it’s arguably the one that’s gotten the furthest. Our takeaway is that the services being rendered and developed are extremely clever ways for an automaker to rake in money, but will not be universally popular. This early example of GM’s changing business model ought to make the company a bundle while aggravating a certain percentage of consumers.

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Oakland PD Turns Over 4.6M License Plate Dataset Via Public Records Request

Via a public records request, the Oakland Police Department has turned over 4.6 million reads of 1.1 million unique plates recorded between 2010 and 2014.

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NHTSA Vows Crackdown Upon Drowsy Driving

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Mark Rosekind announced his agency would crackdown on drowsy driving through data and strategy.

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More Consumers Turning To Technology For Vehicle Purchases

While visiting a dealership is de rigueur for most, an increasing number of consumers are turning to technology to buy their cars.

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ACLU: Drug Enforcement Administration Tracking Plates Since 2008

It’s not just auto lenders and police who track plates: The Drug Enforcement Administration has collected 343 million records since 2008.

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Privacy Advocates Take Law Enforcement To Task Over Handling Of License Plate Data

The panopticon grows taller every day, as motorists who try to learn what information is gathered by the automatic license plate readers face roadblock after roadblock, with three cases set to determine once and for all what can be seen.

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ITS Technologies May Provide Better Travel In Exchange For Personal Data

As V2V and V2I technologies slowly make their way through the testing phase and into the mainstream, there could come a day when your commute will go more smoothly than it stands at the moment. That convenience, however, could come at the price of your personal information.

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Data Privacy Concerns Rise Within Connected-Car Industry

As more vehicles come with infotainment systems mounted in the dashboard console, consumers are beginning to face the issue of losing privacy behind the driver’s seat.

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Homeland Security License Plate Data Collection Plan Cancelled

A plan to create a database from collected license plate data by the Department of Homeland Security was cancelled after said plans were made known without knowledge from top officials.

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  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.