Automatic raises $24M to connect cars to apps

Connected car platform Automatic yesterday announced an investment round of $24 million. The funding was led by an investment arm of USAA, which provides financial services to U.S. military families, along with CDK Global and Comcast Ventures.

Like many other connected car devices, Automatic takes advantage of the on-board diagnostics port included in most vehicles for the last two decades. Originally designed to collect information from a car's computer to help with repairs, the under-the-dash plug can also be used to collect real-time data which can then be streamed to a smartphone or cloud service.

Automatic recently unveiled an App Gallery essentially an app store for your car which offers software to connect the device to a variety of other apps and web services. It can recognize when you've been in an accident and call emergency services; send mileage and maintenance data to vehicle fleet management databases; connect with wearables like Pebble and home automation platforms like IFTTT; and more.

"Our mission is to transform the car ownership experience by enabling the world's best developers to build world-class apps and services for your car," said CEO and co-founder Thejo Kote in a statement.

USAA no doubt sees benefits related to car insurance in Automatic's platform. Progressive Insurance, for instance, has for several years now offered its customers a sliding-scale discount based on data collected by its Snapshot device. CDK, meanwhile, provides hardware and software to car dealerships, who could derive a lot of value from integrating with new apps built on Automatic's developer platform.