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Volkswagen is testing blockchain as a way to prevent odometer tampering and allow secure control over access to cars. With these pilot projects, it leapfrogs many carmakers by considering uses beyond business applications.
“Blockchain technology has enormous potential,” VW IT spokesman Jonas Alexander Kulawik tells ThirtyK. “Our experts are doing pioneering work. They’re still developing and testing solutions.” The company’s engineers currently are experimenting with multiple crypto technology platforms, so it’s too soon to speculate about when solutions may be commercialized, he says.
The goal is to make the used car market for VWs more transparent and secure, the company says.
These moves are more positive news for the German company after the enormous backlash stemming from its 2015 admission that nearly 600,000 cars sold in the U.S. were fitted with “defeat devices” designed to circumvent emissions tests.
The blockchain-based mileage clocking system VW is testing allows each odometer reading to be saved, making it impossible for odometer fraud to go unnoticed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates this problem costs car buyers more than $1 billion a year. Drivers can save their mileage data on a distributed ledger at regular intervals, and those data can’t be tampered with. The goal is to make the used car market for VWs more transparent and secure, the company says.
“With this approach, we can assume the vehicle history will be more accurate and verifiable,” Dionis Teshler, CTO, at automotive cybersecurity firm GuardKnox Cyber Technologies, tells ThirtyK. “It will be harder for potential sellers to skew the truth about the condition and usage of the vehicle,”