Home » How Much Of Your Car Data Are You Willing To Give To Google?

How Much Of Your Car Data Are You Willing To Give To Google?

Google Car

The journey of carmakers in the “data” era has taken companies from building their own walled off gardens that they completely control (albeit probably powered by something like Blackberry’s automotive software), to Bring-Your-Own-Device (sure, we can read songs off your iPod!), to now just turning over the car’s infotainment entirely to Google. Is this the best play? Porsche is the latest automaker to face this question.

Other big questions this morning in the Dump: What’s the point of having an electric sub-brand if your whole brand is going to eventually be electric? How much can you trust what the CEO of an electric car company says (no, not that one) on CNBC? Will American companies be the big winners in the EV future?

Porsche Considering Letting Google Into Its Dash

Porsche Dash

For many consumers, it’s just nice to connect your Android or Apple phone to your car and seamlessly merge your outside-the-car life with your inside-the-car life. To do this, your car needs to have either Android Auto or CarPlay. It works fine!

If you have a different car, say a new Polestar, then Google Maps and Google Assistant are the default and built into the car itself. This means you don’t even need to connect your phone (probably) to access all the features you’d normally use at home. In practice, it works quite well, though when I’m in a car equipped with such a system I often end up just defaulting to running off of my iPhone. The biggest perk is that Google Maps remains the superior mapping option for general travel and if it’s what the car uses, all the better.

There’s a trade-off for automakers in offering this feature, however. Google requires a ton of data, and if an automaker incorporates the tech company’s suite into a car’s system, then that automaker is, in a sense, giving that data (your data) to Google. According to this article in Reuters (“Google, Porsche in talks over Google Apps access”), this is exactly the conundrum Porsche is facing:

Porsche had previously been reluctant to use Google software because Google asked for too much data to be shared, according to Manager Magazin, which first reported the talks.

What works for one automaker (GM, Ford, Polestar all use Google Automotive Services) does not necessarily work for another:

BMW, for example, was “definitely not taking the path” of integrating GAS into its cars, a spokesperson said on Thursday: “It is important to the company to keep hold of the customer interface,” they said.

I’m not sure if Porsche or BMW is making the right call, to be honest. There are advantages to both (advantages, advantages!).

[Editor’s Note: It’s unsurprising that a German carmaker would be reluctant to give out a customer’s data. Germans, in general, are very private people who are often less than keen to give information away if they can avoid it. This is woven into the country’s fabric, perhaps a byproduct of an era in which there simply was no privacy, and spies abounded. My mom, a German, is very private, and frequently when I take photos of cars in Germany, owners ask me to block license plates. Laws in Germany tend to reflect this attitude towards keeping privacy sacred. Sometimes it seems to border a bit on paranoia, but I respect it. -DT].

Mercedes Tossing Out Its EQ Brand Like Yesterday’s Shower Spaghetti

Eq Gen

On the other side of Stuttgart, Mercedes has a much easier decision on its hand: Keep the EQ brand for electric cars or transition away from it? The big EV push from Mercedes has come with a new brand, EQ, which is the company’s electric equivalent of AMG and Maybach, but for clean driving as opposed to power or über luxury.

According to an article in Germany daily newspaper Handelsblatt, the company is likely to move away from the branding as the entire company itself looks to electrify. Assuming you don’t read German, Reuters has their own version of the story and I’ll quote from that:

The decision is based on Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius’ focus on electric-only cars, making the EQ brand redundant as Mercedes turns away from the combustion engine, Handelsblatt cited the sources as saying.

There was a time when Netflix was 100% enjoyed by having the company ship you DVDs as opposed to now, when Netflix is 99% algorithm-induced baking competition shows you watch on your phone. And when you pull up “Is It Cake?”  on your laptop you aren’t watching Netflix-on-Demand, you’re just watching Netflix.

Ironically, automakers turn like ships and not like cars, so the EQ brand isn’t going to disappear tomorrow. Instead, it sounds like there will be a gentle transition.

Be Careful What You Say On CNBC


Don’t go on CNBC’s show “Squawk Box” unless you know what you’re going to say (unless you’re Alex Pareene) and what you should maybe avoid saying. This is a hard lesson that Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson learned when he went on the financial program to announce that company had built a factory and was about to produce 6,000 to 7,000 Lucid Airs.

That didn’t quite happen, but Lucid did merge /go public with a SPAC (you can read more about SPACs here) and investors in that SPAC sued saying, those statements were wrong and that these allegedly misleading statements cost them money.

Lucid gained a big victory yesterday when a judge tossed that lawsuit. From a Reuters report on the lawsuit (again!):

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California said that despite media speculation, Churchill Capital Corp IV shareholders who brought the proposed class action had no reason to know in early 2021 that the SPAC would merge with Lucid.

As a result, she said Lucid Chief Executive Peter Rawlinson’s alleged misleading statements on Feb. 5, 2021 on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” could not have been material to their decisions to invest in the SPAC.

This makes sense! Maybe what he said was incorrect, but the two companies were still two separate and unmerged companies with no plans to connect so who cares? Still, be careful what you say on television.



Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and our growing electric car market here in America, it’s America that is benefiting from the electric car revolution. We’ve got Tesla. We’ve got the F-150 Lightning. We’ve got mega-giga-super battery plants opening up and car chargers going in everywhere.

While not every electric car in the United States was sold by an American brand, the vast bulk of them were built in the land of hot dogs, freedom, baseball, and Mountain Dew Code Red.

Automotive News has a piece, “U.S.-made EVs rule the market — and the trend is accelerating,” that uses manufacturing data to highlight this reality:

U.S.-made EVs accounted for about 75 percent of new-vehicle registrations in the first 11 months of last year, Experian data shows, and U.S.-based automakers were responsible for nearly all of the local production. The biggest exception was Nissan, with its Tennessee-built Leaf holding a 1.7 percent EV market share.

And it’s only getting better, baby:

“The emerging EV market opened up a new opportunity to all manufacturers and brands around the world, but the IRA changed that focus,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions.

“The idea of $7,500 per vehicle lit a fire under companies like Hyundai and BMW to speed up their plans to make their EVs in local plants rather than shipping them into the country,” Fiorani added.

Fire up the inflatable pool barbecue, buddy, we’re partying!

The Flush

How do you navigate in your car? Waze? Google Maps? The car’s nav?


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Photos: Google, Porsche, Mercedes, Lucid, Ford

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63 Responses

  1. “The idea of $7,500 per vehicle lit a fire under companies like Hyundai and BMW to speed up their plans to make their EVs in local plants rather than shipping them into the country,”

    Hopefully not too big a fire. I’ve heard that can be bad with EVs.

  2. How Do I Navigate?
    In my day to day, I navigate by muscle memory.
    If I am in my 2012 MX-5 and am going somewhere I am unfamiliar with, I use Google Maps on my phone.
    If I am in my 2017 Mazda with the factory navigation system possessed by satan, I now also use Google Maps on my phone. Mazda threw a whole bunch of garbage touch screens into all their vehicles that begin to fail with ghost touch after the warranty expires. They refused to cover them outside of warranty even though the failure rate is basically 100%. Oddly, they covered the firs three years for the Mazda 3 which received the revised units before they rolled out to everything else.

    Touch screen ghost touch aside, the navigation is an entirely different issue. Mazda’s maps are on an SD card and the SD cards corrupt over time. This leads to the infotainment system rebooting every 3 minutes; very annoying. If you happen to be listening to music from a USB drive, it restarts playing from whatever point the song was when you started the car. I like Werewolves of London but hearing the same 2-3 minutes on loop gets old. I finally yanked the SD card to stop the reboots. Apparently the SD card issue continues to plague their current cars as well.

  3. I’m sometimes perplexed by the very passionate negative reaction that many online have toward tech companies’ use of user data. In many cases, the vitriol just isn’t justified, but people lose their minds at the concept of companies “selling” their data.

    Certainly it’s scummy for a company to sell *contact* information without explicit permission. I think that’s where I draw the line. It’s annoying enough to receive junk mail, phone calls, and spam email when you’ve opted in but even worse when you can’t figure out the source because your contact information has been sent to multiple different companies.

    But Google, Facebook, and other advertising companies have built up detailed profiles of me based on demographic data in order to serve up ads to me that are more applicable to my age group, my gender, my geographic area, my hobbies, and more. And I’m fine with that. When I compare the advertisements that Google serves up, which are tailored especially for me, I find them preferable to the ads that I see on network TV, which are just shotgunned out and designed for mass appeal. If I have to see ads (and there’s no avoiding them in modern society), then I’d prefer that they at least be relevant to me.

    Critics shriek: “But they’re making money off of YOUR data!” to which I shrug and reply: So? It’s not like *I* can monetize the data for anything. I can’t walk into some office on Madison Avenue and say: “I am a man aged 35-44. That’ll be $35, please.” And I’m not *losing* the data just because some ad company is using it. I just don’t see how it’s harming me at all.

    1. I’m sorry, but this is the most ignorant response to the question I could imagine; that seven other people liked it is terribly disappointing.

      The concern shouldn’t be around how a company can monetize your data streams, it should be around what they do with the data and the choices you are implicitly denied if you drive a google-monitored car. You are not permitted a means to opt out even if you’re not using any google services at all times. With your phone, you can simply turn it off or leave it at home. For more technical folks, they can root or find other means to disable and remove software that does not respect privacy. With google in the car you do NOT have any choice about what is collected, how it is stored and who has access to it.

      People seem to assume that the data that is collected and stored is done with good intentions and this has been proven time and time again to NOT be true. Any publicly traded company will always operate at the pleasure of the majority shareholders and they typically want a return on their investment. Greed and virtue are not typically good friends. If they can sell the data to Equifax, TransUnion or Experian, they absolutely will. I promise you that the whole notion of the Chinese government’s social score is not far off with these three. Do you trust these clowns who have suffered breach after breach with even more of your information?

      Blithely ignoring the real-world problems of individuals to lap at the bootsoles of a large tech firm while parroting “I’ve got nothing to hide” is not a smart approach to this sort of thing. There is much at stake and anyone who would like to have a bathroom door should always push back on invasions of privacy. Start by reading a little eff.org/issues/privacy

    2. Agree on all counts, just not too concerned about it, and also don’t care if my car uses Google. I interact with and am close to my phone more than I am my car, Google already has my data.

  4. When I bought my 2019 Cadillac CT6 I was the 2nd owner and thus still had a years left of OnStar navigation. Last fall when it expired I received repeated dire warnings that clearly stated that my navigation duties would revert to the factory settings, assuming one existed.

    I checked on the cost of OnStar and decided to take my chances. Surprise! The factory navigation package is easily four times better than that provided by OnStar.

    Don’t always believe what your told.

  5. I’m a weird half-Luddite in that I still have a standalone Garmin in all of my cars. I won’t use integrated nav in a car because I’m not paying hundreds of dollars for map updates, and without map updates a GPS gets really useless really fast. Pretty much all Garmin devices come with lifetime map updates now (I’m still updating a Nuvi that’s well over a decade old at this point).

    I tried just using Google maps, but I feel like it was designed for use by a passenger, which I usually don’t have. Too many prompts and distractions when I’m trying to use it to get somewhere. I also like having GPS available even if I’m not using it to navigate because it’s nice to see at a glance what roads are upcoming. If I use my phone then I have to mount it every time I get in the car, and I’d rather just have a dedicated device.

    Come to think of it, I still have an ereader instead of using my phone, so maybe I just have a fetish for specialization?

  6. The issue with Google vs automakers isn’t about privacy, it’s about monetization. Google is still subject to GDPR and other data regulations that apply to all EU countries. However, *how and where and why* you pull data in your vehicle is a trove of very valuable data that can be used to get more money in subscriptions. As pointed out in the thread, most of us have few issues giving this to cell phone vendors because they provide valuable services in exchange for it. Car manufacturers? Not so much.

  7. I usually use my iPhone for navigation, but I like having the built-in nav as a backup. For example, I was in Chicago a few years back and started to drive home – but Apple Maps was down. My car had built-in nav that’s not as nice to look at but certainly got me home.

    Also, some of the newer cars have heads-up displays and fancy overlays – but only if you use the built-in nav.

  8. I use Google Maps every day, unless I’m doing a short drive.

    In the area I’m in traffic conditions are crazy enough that it’s good to know if there’s a massive backup, even if it’s just the commute I do every day.

    I don’t really care if they have my data, as long as I’m not paying them to take it. They already have so much including everywhere I’ve been for the last 6 years or whatever. I know someone in the data industry and he has smarthome stuff and all that and says that it doesn’t really matter because it’s kinda unavoidable.

    1. Same here, when heading into or home from work down town I always fire up google maps and see where the traffic is at that time to help me make the decision on which path to take.

    1. Plus waze does a better job with traffic info/etc. In addition, even though I don’t speed, knowing there’s a cop ahead is good so you can prepare for people to slam on their brakes and go 10 under the speed limit.

    2. Yes, although I start looking for the object and invariably look back at the screen to see if I’m past it yet right about when I arrive at the object.

  9. My navigation tool is built-in between my two ears. I don’t have any need for GPS or smart phones.

    I’d prefer to give Google nothing, but they’ll take it anyway, even without consent. Unwanted datamining and dossiers compiled by data brokers for mass sale without the consent of the subjects to whom that data pertains ought to be outlawed.

  10. I navigate via Google Maps. I have absolutely no sense of direction whatsoever (people tend not to believe how profound my lack of internal navigation is until I do something like veer onto a fire road because I thought that was the turn I was supposed to take, despite having just driven through the area fifteen minutes ago) and prior to the existence of GPS-based navigation, I used to simply get lost all the time. I literally could not do my job without GPS nav, and Google Maps is the best one out there.

    The only exception is when I am driving the box truck, when I run Google Maps plus a dedicated Garmin navigation device. The Garmin (mostly) knows about things like what bridges I can’t fit under and what roads I’m not allowed on, but also it doesn’t know about stuff like traffic and road closures and its navigation algorithm is just pretty dumb in general and will get me to my destination up to 30 minutes later than Google can, so I run it side-by-side with Google Maps. I tend to follow Google Maps until it seems as though it’s about to get me in trouble, and then I’ll follow the Garmin until I’ve gotten past the trouble spot. I also tend to ignore Google entirely when heading into Boston, because it’ll send me on shortcuts down all kinds of narrow surface streets that I really don’t want to drive the box truck on if I can possibly avoid it.

  11. How do you navigate in your car? Waze? Google Maps? The car’s nav?

    By the north star, or, maybe you know actual knowledge ie Atlas!
    No I don’t get out of town much, nor does my phone connect to my car! But I’m happy knowing where I am, and how to get out of the mess if traffic is bad.

  12. I navigate by looking through the windshield at where I am going.

    The sub-brand noise is the result of car companies trying to convince investors that they are tech companies rather than just the lowly consumer product manufacturers they actually are. Tesla basically invented that spin and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon. Now that tech stocks are tanking, I’m sure some will give up on that.

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