International Business Machines Corp. said Wednesday it is pairing with BMW to provide cloud-based data management for the German auto maker’s recently launched connected car initiative, a move by the centenarian tech giant to deepen its move into passenger vehicles.
IBM is working to sign up auto makers for its cloud-computing platform and stake a claim in the burgeoning market for connecting passenger cars with customized services based on real-time vehicle performance. Last year, it announced a similar deal with General Motors Co.
Connected vehicle data represent a rapidly emerging market for auto makers, which are cautiously moving to embrace the potential for revenue streams from service companies that are eager to tap into their large captive client base. For drivers, it opens the door to services tailored to their driving profiles.
The project with BMW, which is expected to start up this fall in Europe, lays the foundation for what IBM envisions as a global data hub that gathers information from many auto makers and matches vehicle owners with outside service providers such as auto insurers, repair shops and gas stations.
“We are the broker and the enabler for the third parties” beyond auto makers, Dirk Wollschlaeger, IBM’s general manager for global automotive, aerospace and defense, said in an interview.
A representative for BMW in the U.S. confirmed plans to partner with IBM but didn’t provide details.
BMW officially launched its CarData program last month, which is designed to link some 8.5 million vehicles equipped to transfer data — and whose owners opt in — with third parties marketing customized and discounted products such as oil changes or insurance policies.
IBM’s agreement with BMW isn’t exclusive but provides an opportunity to showcase its Bluemix cloud platform. Mr. Wollschlaeger said another European auto maker, which he declined to name, also plans to use Bluemix and that his company is in talks with several others.
The Armonk, N.Y., company plans to earn revenue from the spread between what it pays auto makers like BMW and what it charges others for access to the data, he said.
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