Road Ahead

Please, Just Leave Me Alone


Automakers want to know where you go and how often you go make your life easier. Yeah, right.

Automakers and suppliers have this grand idea that the next frontier in infotainment is personalization.

They promote this as a way to make our driving lives easier, but really it’s just a way for them to add a new revenue stream, or, as one auto executive speaking at an industry conference a few years back put it, “Make sure the car is making money for us every year it’s on the road.”

Tracking our whereabouts, as much as some in the auto industry don’t want to admit it, is so OEMs can collect personal information to sell to marketers, likely to pave the way toward in-vehicle advertising.

Really? Can’t the car remain the one place in life I’m not being pitched to? And before you say terrestrial radio has ads, I only listen to satellite, in an effort to avoid said commercials. And before I had satellite, I switched the channel every single time an ad came on the station I was listening to, or just played a cassette.

I don’t need to be tracked so Toyota, Chevrolet, Jeep, etc. can send me a coupon for my favorite lunch spot. I can find one myself easily enough, thanks. And I know all the alternate routes to my office, because, you know, I live near it and drive there almost every day.

At a recent telematics industry conference I attended, someone on a panel asked the room, a roomful of people in the telematics field mind you, how many of them don’t allow apps on their smartphone to detect their location.

Half of the attendees raised their hand.

So if a roomful of people presumably in the telematics field, or who have a close association with it, don’t want to be tracked, why should we be OK with it?

Someone on the panel posited while older buyers may object to being tracked, younger buyers won’t care, because kids today live lives that are an open book with all their tweeting and Facebook-ing.

But kids today have great BS detectors, and they know when smoke is being blown up their you-know-whats.

Tracking a drivers’ movements, no matter their age, to find out where they’re going and what they’re doing, every time they get in their car, is not for the driver’s benefit, and it’s downright creepy to boot.

Automakers and suppliers say any tracking in this new world of personalized infotainment could be disabled. But, in a world where it’s getting harder and harder for automakers to make money the old-fashioned way, by building and selling vehicles, I’m not sure that will be the case going forward.

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What's Road Ahead?

Blogs with an emphasis on technology, design and suppliers.


Drew Winter

Drew Winter is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto World magazine and a Senior Editor at He was won numerous awards for his work in both print and digital media and has been...

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is executive editor of WardsAuto World magazine, with an emphasis on technology and suppliers. He leads selection of the Ward’s 10 Best Engines and Ward’s 10 Best Interiors...
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