Survey: Don’t sell my vehicle's data, consumers say
  • Studies

Survey: Don’t sell my vehicle's data, consumers say

By Analytics Team | June 25, 2019


  • Eighty-three percent of consumers believe automakers and tech companies should not be able to collect data and sell it to advertisers or third-party entities.
  • Seventy percent of respondents said they believed vehicle owners should be in control (and own) the data their vehicle generates.
  • A majority of consumers (53 percent) feel that lawmakers are not doing enough about vehicle data privacy or were not aware of the issue at all.
  • Autolist found a link between people who use OBD-II port devices through their insurance company and how those people feel about companies selling their car data.

Full story:

Concerns over the privacy of your data -- and what companies are doing with it -- isn’t limited to smartphones, apps or the Internet. It’s top of mind for car shoppers as well.

A new survey by found that 83 percent of consumers believe automakers and tech companies should not be allowed to sell the personal data collected by their vehicles. And 70 percent of respondents said it should be the vehicle owners -- not the automakers or tech companies -- that own and control the data collected in the vehicle.

“Whether it’s on an Android phone or inside an Acura, data security is very much on peoples’ minds,” said Chase Disher, analyst at Autolist. “Consumers are increasingly wary of how much data is being collected about them -- and they’re becoming more aware of the value of that data too.”

Many new vehicles are collecting increasing amounts of personal information and data on nearly every aspect of an owner’s driving experience. The value of that car data is massive -- and expected to keep growing.

A 2016 report by McKinsey & Company found that the data generated by connected cars could generate between $450 billion and $750 billion by 2030.

With carmakers facing a decline in new vehicle sales, slimmer profit margins on those vehicles and massive r&d costs as the industry shifts toward electrification, the allure of data as a profit generator is hard to ignore.

Brands like Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Jaguar Land Rover already gather and sell anonymized data on consumers. Looking ahead, more than 80 percent of auto industry executives see data as a primary source of income in the future, according to a recent report by KPMG.

Autolist’s survey found that an overwhelming majority of current car shoppers have concerns about data protection and remain wary of the sale of their data.

Eighty-three percent of consumers said that automakers and tech companies should not be able to sell their vehicle data to third-party entities and advertisers. Just nine percent of respondents said this should be allowed; eight percent were unsure.

“Car buyers have made it clear that a vehicle’s data should be theirs to control,” Disher said. “Since that’s not currently the norm, we could see a moment of reckoning between automakers and consumers as connected vehicles become commonplace.”

Consumers also overwhelmingly believed that it was the owner of the vehicle should have primary control over what is done with the data their car collects.

Seventy percent of Autolist’s respondents said that consumers should control their vehicle’s data; ten percent believed the dealer should control it, nine percent believed a service center should control it, eight percent believed it should be controlled by the automaker and three percent believed it should be controlled by a third-party tech company.

Currently, 20 of the biggest automakers selling in the U.S. have committed to the Consumer Privacy Protection Principles, a voluntary agreement that says the companies will make it clear to consumers when they’re sharing location information, data on driver behavior or biometric data.

There are no federal laws in the U.S. governing the collection or sale of consumers’ data that’s gathered by their vehicles. In 2018, privacy concerns led California to pass a law governing the collection and sale of consumer data -- including their vehicles. The law is set to go into effect in 2020 and is considered to be the strictest privacy law for consumers in the country.

Autolist found that frustration with lawmakers’ inaction on this issue is high. Just eight percent of respondents said legislators were aware of the vehicle data privacy issue and were doing enough to protect consumers’ privacy. Fifty-three percent of consumers said lawmakers were either aware of the issue but not doing enough or were not aware of the issue at all. Thirty-nine percent of shoppers were unsure.

Autolist’s survey also found that consumers would still prefer that the federal government be the one to mandate data security.

Forty-six percent of respondents said it should be the feds and Congress who set the rules for what data is collected and what companies are allowed to do with it. Twenty-two percent said it should be up to the automakers (as it currently is); 18 percent said it should be up to the states; eight percent said it should be up to the local jurisdictions and six percent said it should be up to the tech companies themselves.

Autolist’s survey also found that people who use a third-party insurance tracking device are more comfortable with an automaker or other company selling their data.

These devices plug into a vehicle’s OBD-II port under the dashboard and allow insurance companies to monitor driver behavior; discounts are promised to those drivers who are deemed safe.

Nineteen percent of people who use and enjoy an OBD-II insurance tracker device said they supported the sale of their data to advertisers or other third parties. Meanwhile, the sale of this data was supported by only nine percent of people who didn’t use such a tracker.

Autolist surveyed 1,430 current car shoppers in June to gauge their attitudes towards data collection and privacy in vehicles.