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VW CEO Winterkorn doesn't want the car to become a "data monster" (Photo: CeBIT)

Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn, opening Europe's biggest high-tech fair, strongly committed the automaker to a future of connected cars and more digitalization across the industry.

In an opening address at the CeBIT fair in Hanover, Winterkorn said digital technologies will have a fundamental impact on the mobility of the future. Cars are already "mobile computing centers," he said, but the new mobility will need to be shaped "in an even more intelligent, more networked way."

Winterkorn embraced the upside potential of connected cars but also warned for the data-protection issues resulting from the connectivity trend. "The car must not become a data monster," he said, adding that the industry must make sure customers' privacy is guaranteed and their data protected.

"I clearly say yes to big data, yes to greater security and convenience,  but no to paternalism and Big Brother," the head of Europe's largest automotive group said.

Winterkorn called on the automotive and IT industries, the global business  community, governments and research institutions to work together to realize his vision of the mobility of the future. He cited as challenges to connected mobility "the modernization of infrastructure and the clarification of legal aspects."

Volkswagen recently launched a research project called "Future Tracks," which will look at, among other things, the role of digitalization in new mobility solutions. The project is a direct result of customers' wishes changing faster than ever before, Winterkorn said.

IT companies are set to play a key role in future mobility as the two industries work more closely together. Said the VW CEO: "With digital innovations, the IT industry is transforming the way we live and work."

CeBIT, which opens to the public Monday, will run through Friday.