Connected car platform Automatic raises $24 million led by USAA

The San Francisco-based startup developed a sensor and app combination that helps drivers with tasks such as tracking mileage and summoning assistance after a crash.

Image via Automatic

Makers of the connected car platform Automatic have announced a $24 million Series B round led by the investment arm of USAA, an insurance firm for military families.

Also participating in the round are CDK Global and Comcast Ventures, as well as previous investors Y Combinator, RPM Ventures and Anthemis Group.

Founded in 2011, Automatic is one of the many tech firms targeting the smart car ecosystem. The San Francisco-based startup first developed a sensor that plugs into a vehicle's diagnostics port and sends data to the driver's smartphone via Bluetooth, helping the driver track mileage, MPG and other detailed data about the status of their car.

In May, Automatic announced partnerships with more than 20 third-party app makers, expanding the company into a platform for apps and services that range from roadside emergency assistance to a parked car locator.

"Automatic is breathing new life into car ownership by connecting any car on the road today to a world of apps that help with everything from sending emergency assistance after a crash to easily filing expense reports," said Victor Pascucci, head of Corporate Development at USAA, in a statement.

It's no surprise USAA would take interest in Automatic. The insurer could leverage vehicle data in myriad ways, like for instance using crash diagnostics within accident claims, or as a means for lowering premiums based on safe driving habits (similar to Progressive's Snapshot device).

Beyond servicing the common driver, Automatic also touts apps for use in an enterprise, helping with tasks such as expensing business mileage and managing fleets of vehicles. This is where CDK likely comes into play, as the company provides technology solutions to 27,000 car dealerships worldwide.

Automatic charges $99.95 for the device, which could be a tough sell to consumers, even though for now there are no ongoing service fees. Competitors in the space include CarMD, Dash, Zubie and Torque.