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Carmakers tell Apple and Google to stay away from their data

As vehicle infotainment systems by tech giants such as Apple and Google become widespread, automobile manufacturers have said that they intend to limit the car and driver information these systems are able to access.

The two tech companies have indeed provided a variety of services through smartphones, and connecting phones to car systems via Apple's CarPlay (opens in new tab) and Google's Android Auto (opens in new tab) certainly extends their reach. However, car companies will not allow them to go further due to the threats that the likes of Apple and Google pose to them.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide infotainment systems with data from the vehicle's functional systems such as steering, brakes and throttle, as well as information about the distance range a car can travel before it runs out of gas.

"We need to control access to that data [in order] to protect our ability to create value," Ford Motor Co's executive director of connected vehicle and services Don Butler said.

"The risk is, if you give up control and somebody else figures out that business model, then you lose the future revenue stream," adds AlixPartners' automotive practice vice president Friedmar Rumpel.

AlixPartners estimates global revenues from digitally connected cars will grow in value to $40 billion (£25 billion) a year worldwide by 2018, from $16 billion (£10.3 billion) in 2013, and auto companies would like to tap on this opportunity.

General Motors Co told investors earlier this year that it expects to realise an additional $350 million (£225 million) in revenue over three years from the high-speed data connections it is building into its cars.

While many automakers have signed up to use the infotainment systems, some car companies also have designed their own systems - such as Volkswagen AG's Audi subsidiary, which intends to develop and license its own brand-specific apps.

"This enables a business model that completely belongs to the carmaker,"Audi's senior systems architect for connected vehicle technologies Mathias Halliger said.

Nonetheless, policies on data access and sharing among car companies still differ.

As for Apple and Google, they defend that their systems are only intended to give an enhanced driving experience.

"All of the data is anonymised, not connected with other Apple services, and is not stored by Apple, so no one can build a profile about the driver or their travels," Apple said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Google's system asks the driver is whether he or she agrees to share user-generated data with Google and third-party app providers.