10 Connected Car Technology Startups
Right now the world is in the midst of the Internet-of-Everything revolution. Our TVs, refrigerators, and thermostats offer internet-connected features that range in their usefulness. It comes as no surprise that internet-connected cars and devices are surging in popularity – but there are some better reasons to seek connectivity in a car than there is in a fridge. Let’s take a look at some of the real-world tangible benefits of connected car technology.
- Safety. Every year in the U.S. there are more than 30,000 driving deaths with an astounding 1.2 million driving deaths in total around the world. An internet-connected vehicle could identify hazards in advance and take corrective steps. Imagine a car that can predict traffic at a stand-still around a sharp corner, slowing down in advance.
- Repairs. Vehicles are huge investment. Internet-connected vehicles could allow for garages to offer remote diagnosis and ongoing vehicle health monitoring.
- Traffic Congestion. As population centers continue to grow, traffic congestion has become an issue for many cities. It is particularly problematic in cities with poor infrastructure. Connected cars could help to alleviate traffic congestion by choosing alternate routes. They could also work with municipalities to balance roadway usage.
- Save time. There is no doubt that having access to real-time traffic information saves us time. We already experience this every day with GPS apps. However, with autonomous driving coming in the not-so-distant future, real-time connectivity will improve decision-making.
- Entertainment. The internet is home to limitless entertainment, some of which can be safely enjoyed while driving. Music, radio, news, and podcasts are all already a regular part of our driving entertainment. When autonomous vehicles are more common, that list may include movies, television, or video games.
These represent a small number of advantages you get by connecting cars to the cloud and this list will only continue to grow as connectivity becomes ubiquitous. There are many startups that are vying to find their foothold in the connected car market like Metromile and Automatic Labs which we’ve talked about previously. Now let’s take a look at ten more connected car startups out there.
Founded in 1997, Seattle startup Airbiquity offers a number of connected vehicle services (also known as automotive telematics) within their platform that caters to vehicle manufacturers, dealerships, insurance companies and rental agencies. The Company has accepted $76.42 million through 5 rounds of funding so far to develop features like vehicle service management, health monitoring, geolocation tracking, driver monitoring, entertainment, and security. All data derived from your vehicle is readily available to be viewed through a smartphone app. Airbiquity also offers complete electric vehicle management software that includes battery management, driving range info, trip planning, and a rewards system. The Company currently boasts customers like Nissan, Ford, and Bosch and has made their technology available in 65+ countries.
Founded in 2015, Israeli startup Otonomo offers a real-time data exchange platform to car manufacturers, service providers, and app developers. The platform allows for the exchange of car-generated data and aims to provide a better connected car experience for users. One of Otonomo’s biggest selling points is the multi-layered security, including encryption, and a layer-7 firewall. Data included in their exchange platform includes categories like smart city, automotive suppliers, insurance, safety, energy, retail, fleet management, and maintenance. Otonomo has received $40 million through 3 rounds of funding that included lead investor Delphi Automotive (NYSE:DLPH) which is one of the world’s largest automotive parts manufacturers.
Update 04/30/2020: Otonomo has raised $46 million in Series C funding to further expand its business. This brings the company’s total funding to $89 million to date.
Founded in 2011, Silicon Valley startup CloudCar has raised $26.5 million through 2 rounds of funding with the stated goal of “re-imagining the driver experience.” The company’s platform creates custom experiences based on the wants and needs of the driver such as using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to allow drivers to interact directly with their vehicle. For example, using the CloudCar platform, lead investor Jaguar Land Rover recently announced the world’s first in-car payment system that lets you pay for fuel using your car’s touchscreen. Additionally, CloudCar focuses on the entertainment side of cloud connectivity, providing an interactive platform that allows users to connect with their favorite services while on the road. CloudCar has already partnered with companies like Apple, Spotify, iHeartradio, TripAdviser, and Pandora.
Founded in 2012, South Carolina startup Zubie is a driving maintenance system that is marketed to families as a teen driver tracking app, but its features would also be useful in business operations. The Company has raised $25.87 million through 5 rounds of funding that includes investors like Best Buy and Nokia. The Zubie input plugs into the diagnostic port of any vehicle and provides data points through the app so you can monitor and rate drivers with a driving score, based on their driving behavior and speed. The app also provides maintenance alerts, engine diagnostics, and roadside assistance hailing. You can also link Zubie to a whole slew of apps and even make it communicate with Amazon Echo. The Zubie GPS tracker with Wifi Hotspot runs about $89 on Amazon with the service costing $10 a month after that.
Founded in 2012, Silicon Valley startup Mojio has raised $17.3 million through 3 rounds of funding to develop an open platform that is hardware agnostic and provides three types of data; diagnostic, behavioral, and contextual. Diagnostic data includes fuel usage, battery voltage, check engine lights, and speed. Behavioral data includes locations visited, speeding, braking, and rapid acceleration. Contextual data relies on outside sources to deliver geolocation data, speed limits, traffic flow and safety recalls. The in-depth data offered makes the Mojio platform an attractive one for auto manufacturers, wireless companies, and app developers alike. With Mojio entering into a partnership with Amazon, it’s only a matter of time before you can ask Alexa things about your car.
Update 02/20/2019: Mojio has raised around $40 million in Series B funding to monetize connected car data. This brings the company’s total funding to $57.9 million to date.
Founded in 2013, Silicon Valley startup Automile offers simple but deep fleet management with a straight-forward per-vehicle pricing structure. The Company has raised $12.85 million so far from investors that included Salesforce to develop features like compliance and mileage logging, expense recording, inspection tracking, and driver identification data. Their robust reporting suite gives meaningful data to fleet managers, allowing for smarter routes and more effective decision-making. You can get started in seconds with a self-installed device that offers a free 30-day trial and then starts at $5.90 per vehicle per month.
Everyone knows how dangerous it can be to use your phone while driving. San Jose California startup DriveMode was founded in 2014 with the purpose of making phone use while driving as safe as possible. Their product is simply an app that takes the typical functions of any Android device and makes them accessible through a simplied interface that includes easy-to-use voice commands and large buttons. Some of the features offered by DriveMode include voice-reply messages, easy music players, quick-search navigation, smart recommendations, and personalized app shortcuts. DriveMode can be downloaded and setup in just two minutes, and will integrate with popular apps like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Spotify, Pandora, and Google Maps. The company has raised $9.15 million through 3 rounds of funding to date.
There are no barriers to entry for developing a connected car platform, and Vinli is yet another startup that aims to bring smart car functionality to any car in the world. Founded in 2014, this Texas startup has developed a platform that offers a roving pay-as-you-go WiFi hotspot with built-in 4G LTE and an ecosystem that offers up to over 40 apps that connect drivers with their favorite services. The company has raised a total of $6.5 million through 2 rounds of venture funding from investors that include Samsung and Cox Automotive which plans to ship Vinli as an option from its many dealerships. Vinli has also partnered with Meineke to offer their product as part of a service package. You can pick up a Vinli device on Amazon for $99.99.
Update 02/06/2019: Vinli has raised $13.5 million in Series B funding to broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world. This brings the company’s total funding to $20 million to date.
Founded in 2014, Silicon Valley startup CarVi has raised $5 million through a single round of funding to develop an advanced driver assistance program with the goal of saving lives and promoting better driving skills. CarVi is actually a hardware device that can be fitted to any vehicle and is able to see other cars on the road. The system monitors the roadways, sending data and alerts to the driver. For instance, CarVi can alert drivers when they are following a vehicle too closely, are being tailgated, swerving in their lane, or driving too fast for the conditions. Over time, CarVi hopes to implement features that coach drivers on safer defensive driving practices. The device records everything that drivers and their vehicles do, and can help to lower insurance costs.
Founded in 2012, Dash has raised $1.9 million to develop a connected car platform that is hardware agnostic and perhaps the cheapest way to get a connected car. Just pick up an ODB diagnostic port device like this one from Carista for $39.99 and almost any vehicle produced after 1996 can now be connected to provide the usual “connected car” features like diagnostics, engine health, and usage data. According to an article by TechCrunch, as of November 2015 Dash claimed to have more users than their top 5 competitors combined.
With all these startups attacking this space, it’s only a matter of time now before all cars are “connected cars” and the term just dies out.
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