Surge of data from cars could be big moneymaker. Do automakers have mettle to harness it? – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2016

When cars exit the tunnel of the next 15 years, they’ll be like giant smartphones.

Their sensors will capture sight, sound and motion and transmit the information to the Internet quickly and affordably. The $100-billion app economy built on data from smartphones would look small compared with the $750 billion in revenue produced around cars.

The forecast has automakers buzzing. As they accelerate spending on developing self-driving cars, they’re devoting enormous attention on what to do with data that those high-tech devices generate — beyond making the drive automated. Among the possibilities: selling details about driving patterns to real estate developers or using it in personalized insurance calculations.

But the road to such a future could be more treacherous than traditional giants of the auto industry expect. They’re assuming the costs of sensors will fall enough to justify data collection efforts. They’re betting they can easily transfer the data, though it could be thousands of times the volume discharged by smartphones. And they’re hoping their role — and moneymaking potential — in the new realm isn’t marginalized.

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