AM Online

VW Group will collect Big Data on its drivers but says no to ‘Big Brother’ tactics

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen Group chairman of the board of management, expects the IT and motor industries to come closer together and for manufacturers to collect data about their drivers.

Winterkorn spoke at IT trade fair CeBIT in Hanover, Germany and said that while VW Group is in favour of ‘Big Data’ (collecting and analysing vast amounts of data on its drivers), he said the car of the future must not become a data monster.

Winterkorn said: “We already protect our customers against a wide variety of risks such as aquaplaning, micro-sleep and long, time-consuming congestion.

“With the same attention to our responsibilities, we intend to protect our customers against the abuse of their data. I clearly say yes to Big Data, yes to greater security and convenience, but no to paternalism and Big Brother.

“At this point, the entire industry is called upon. We need a voluntary commitment by the automobile industry. The Volkswagen Group is ready to play its part.”

Volkswagen presented its car cockpit of the future ‘James 2025’at the CeBIT show. This study developed by Volkswagen Group Research shows how VW’s automatic driving cars of the future will change the environment of the car’s cockpit when the car’s computer takes over driving of the vehicle. When automated driving is activated the steering wheel, seating position and light coding change, and a large central screen gives all the vehicle occupants details of any planned driving manoeuvres.

A second screen with touchpad operation on the console of the central tunnel provides additional infotainment functions.


Winterkorn said: “The two ground-breaking inventions, the automobile and the computer, are moving closer together.
“We need to shape the mobility of the future in an even more intelligent, more networked way.”

Winterkorn declared that the increasingly intensive networking of cars with their surroundings and automatic driving would be the key topics for the intelligent mobility of the future.

He said: “Information technology has been a key component of the automobile industry for some time.

“Our cars are already mobile computer centres, with 1.5 km of cables, more than 50 control units and the computing power of 20 highly advanced PCs. Now we face the considerable challenge of making mobility even more intelligent and more networked together with the IT industry.”

Winterkorn said the automotive industry must learn from the IT industry with shorter and shorter technology and product cycles.

He said: “People’s expectations of mobility are changing fundamentally. And our customers’ wishes for their own cars are changing faster and faster.

“This is why the Volkswagen Group has recently launched a major new future-oriented initiative Future Tracks. This initiative will bring the brightest people in our group together in order to find answers to the major challenges faced by our industry. Digitalisation will play a key role in this process.”

He said that the Volkswagen Group already employed 9.300 highly qualified IT specialists and was investing about £3.1 billion a year in information technology.

Click here for technology best practice and procurement insight

If you are not a registered user your comment will go to AM for approval before publishing. To avoid this requirement please register or login.

Login to comment


  • Duck - 15/03/2014 09:17

    As they can only collect data from their own websites it won't be that "big". BIG data will come when they are augmenting the chaotic customer research journey of a purchase across the average 17 websites that a customer will look at.

    • tomseymour - 17/03/2014 09:42

      @Duck - Volkswagen are talking about the data collected from connected cars of the future - the journeys customers are making, the music they're listening to, the restaurants they've driven to. That sort of stuff.

    • Duck - 17/03/2014 10:01

      @tomseymour - Sorry misunderstood! That's stunning stuff. I know some people don't like "big brother" but if this means in future that my car recommends restaurants that it know's I will like and tells me of music that fits the genre that I may have missed and advertising becomes more relevant to me, target and cheaper then it's all good news as far as I am concerned. Genius - it would put VW on my next vehicle choice!

    • tomseymour - 17/03/2014 10:05

      @Duck - That's it, if they can use that information so it's useful for you, then I think customers would embrace it. Wouldn't want someone hacking into my automated car's sat nav and driving me somewhere I didn't want to go though. Security on that stuff is going to have to be extremely high to protect people.