As China cracks whip, car makers scurry with plans to store car data locally


Facing the wrath of the Chinese government in any way is a massive headache no major car company wants to invite. After all, China is the world’s largest automotive market in the world and almost every global brand present here knows that success here would have an overbearingly positive impact on their respective overall performances. As such and a time when Tesla is under fire over suspicions that its cars in the country may be capturing and sending data outside of China – something CEO Elon Musk has refuted, other OEMs are betting big on having data stored within China.

(Also read: Trouble in paradise? Tesla-China love boat may have hit stormy weather)

Modern-day cars are engineering marvels in more ways than one and incorporate a whole lot of technology for wide-ranging application. Sensors, cameras, radars, GPS – vehicles of today tend to be enormously capable in a number of ways. It has also led to data-related concerns with China recently banning its citizens from parking their Tesla vehicles inside government and military compounds. As a result, Tesla confirmed it has set up a site in China which would store such data locally.

It is a path others are almost certain to take.

A Reuters report stated that while Ford Motor has established a data center in China earlier this year, BMW also informed it operates local data centers while not revealing since when. Daimler also has a data center in China.

Other global car makers either don’t have a data center in China or are rather unwilling to divulge much. Industry experts, however, largely agree that those who don’t will eventually have to. This is also to do with a cybersecurity law introduced in 2017 which mandates that all companies store locally-generated data onshore in China. More recently, a draft rule was posted which stated that automakers have to first receive an approval from a customer before collecting data from his or her vehicle.

The concerns over data privacy isn’t just limited to China and hardly limited to the automotive world. With rapid strides in technology, many countries are looking at strengthening data protection laws even though some governments are also accused of breaching these laws.