Editor Alastair Walker looks at the implications of Wejo’s acquisition of Carjojo:
Recently Cheshire based start-up Wejo bought an American company called Carjojo. No, this isn’t the opening line from a bizarre limerick, but an interesting story which highlights how the ownership, the gatekeeping, of car generated data is likely to be one of the big battlegrounds of the future between insurers and car makers.
Wejo’s core offer is selling car manufacturer data to third parties. So things like geo-tag location, frequently visited shopping malls, theme parks, places of business, hotels, usual commuter journey route, time of day, who services the car & how often etc all have a value. The car makers have been a bit slow to capitalise on this new stream of gold, which is why so many telematics companies and insurtech start-ups have also pitched their offer to the marketplace ove rthe last 10-15 years.
Wejo has a former boss of GM motors China as its Chairman, so you can sense that this company has big ambitions from its modest offices in rural Cheshire. If you ran GM in China then it’s a safe bet that you can see the value of things like facial recognition, phone usage and social channel activity by drivers and passengers for example. Wejo are onto something here, so let’s extrapolate the money trail a little bit:
The Telegraph reports that internet connected cars are generating data worth about $40 a year, which I would say is a massive underestimate. The revenue potential is much greater, because poor people aren’t going to be early adopters of driverless, or truly 21st century connected cars.
New cars tend to be rented, or occasionally purchased, by wealthier people, who buy lots of other stuff, or have children who need constant entertainment and gadgetry, or else they take to Twitter and Snapchat to vent their rage against the capitalist machine. That suggests the data from a truly connected car, one which `talks’ to RFID tags at shops or car parks, downloads and stores favourite Sat Nav routes, or records real time footage via its front and rear cameras, has huge cash potential.
This is even more true of driverless cars. Think about it; when drivers don’t have to physically control the vehicle, but simply babysit the technology, then they will be free to catch up with emails, message friends, rage on social media, shop on Amazon, Just Eat or ebay etc – all whilst on the move. And they will, believe me, because people are lazy and once cocooned inside their Google-powered car they will plug in and play, or work during rush hour on the M25.
Big insurers need to start developing in-car dashcams, and other easy-to-fit devices and offer them FREE – yes I said free – as part of a loyalty bonus when a customer renews their car insurance. Fitted at home, in under an hour, with no fuss. No hairy Halfords bloke reluctantly saying he’s fully booked for the next three Saturdays.
If insurers, MGAs and brokers all allow the car makers to ring fence the data being generated by the car’s ECU brain, plus the leisure data being consumed wirelessly inside the cabin, without a serious marketing and insurtech fight, then they are kissing goodbye to billions in the long term.
Knowledge is power baby.