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Electric cars in China

China guzzles real-time data on electric-vehicle use

Car location, battery use and braking among details monitored

Chinese automaker BYD showcases new electric vehicle models in June.

BEIJING -- The Chinese government is collecting real-time data on electric vehicles driving on its roads, according to recent media reports, a practice that could provide a leg up in the development of self-driving technology but may also spark concerns about privacy protection.

The data comes from the vehicles' electrical control units, which govern motors, steering wheels, gas pedals, brakes and other parts, covering more than 60 categories -- including the location of the car and the state of its battery charge.

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