Volkswagen CEO says IT and car industries must work together on connected cars and that there should be privacy protection for users
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winkerhorn has called for greater collaboration between the auto and IT industries and a voluntary agreement from car manufacturers as connected and driverless cars become a reality.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of CeBIT 2014 in Hannover, Winkerhorn declared his intention to make driving more intelligent and more connected, without removing the joy of getting behind the wheel, but echoed many of his compatriots’ concerns about privacy.
He said the car was a moving data centre and that the car industry needed to protect its users aainst the misuse of data.
“We must not allow the car to become a threat to our privacy,” he said, adding that the Volkswagen group, which includes Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Seat and Skoda, would support any voluntary agreement to protect sensitive information.
“I am convinced the car is on the threshold of digitalisation,” he continued, stating that if a fridge or alarm clock could be connected, a car could do it better. He said that there was demand for automated driving, but its focus would be on easing the load when driving was no longer fun, such as being stuck in traffic or trying to find a parking space.
“The driver will always retain the ultimate power of decision,” he said comparing the experience to how a pilot uses auto-pilot on an aircraft. He showed off the central driver assistance control and said it was “only a matter of time” before it became a reality.
“Driverless cars are no longer restricted to the pages of science fiction,” he added, noting that Audi has been testing driverless cars in California and the US.
However he said the intelligent car was too big a project for one manufacturer to do alone, and said that just as it makes no sense for Google and IBM to build cars, many of the tasks associated with connected cars would have to be done by the tech industry. Volkswagen has already entered into an alliance with Google and said other companies should contribute too.
Last week, Apple unveiled the iOS-powered CarPlay at the Geneva Motor Show, while the Obama administration has given its support to the connected car concept, which should help encourage mainstream adoption.
The Internet of Things, including connected cars, have been a major theme of this year’s CeBIT, with Prime Minister David Cameron pledging a new £45 million fund. However privacy has also been a hot topic, with Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commissioner Neelie Kroes both calling for European legislation to help protect personal data.
Excited by CeBIT? Try our quiz!