Caura, the vehicle management platform founded by former Apple exec Dr Sai Lakshmi, has secured $4.2 million in funding to develop its application and integrate with in-car infotainment systems.
TwinFocus Capital Partners led the seed round but, among the other funds and angels investing, were InMotion Ventures, the CVC arm of Jaguar Land Rover whose vehicles will be the first to benefit from Caura’s seamless integration.
Removing the pain from driving
First launched as an iOS app in 2020, Caura aims to remove many of the pain points from vehicle ownership. The application currently offers two products. Caura Protect partners with a range of insurers to manage vehicle and driver insurance, while Caura Drive manages the payments of various charges and tolls the driver might incur. The app manages all payments via Apple Pay or a registered credit card, offering drivers a fully integrated solution.
There are currently around 25 platforms in the UK that drivers may have to use as part of their vehicle management, including insurance, registration, tax, and charges and tolls. While all of these have online options, it requires drivers to manage and maintain a growing number of single purpose websites and apps, some of which may only be used once a year.
Drivers are also increasingly at risk of automatic penalties if they forget, or are simply unaware, of a charge. An inadvertent turn near a charging zone boundary can result in a stiff penalty, and the first a driver might know of it is when they get a demand for payment.
Dr Lakshmi, Caura’s founder and CEO, said, “Our goal was to create a single app from which Britain’s 30 million drivers could manage every aspect of their vehicle’s management and maintenance, from MOT to tax to parking. This funding will enable us to realise our vision and expand to all drivers with native in-car systems, starting with Jaguar Land Rover, and for Android and web users as well.”
Further expansion of functions and range
Caura plans to use the funding to develop its app and fund future expansion. Part of this will include integrating Caura into the existing Jaguar Land Rover infotainment systems. Like most manufacturers, Jaguar Land Rover’s current on-board systems are mainly for information consumption, such as maps or entertainment, or communication. The addition of Caura will enable drivers, with just a few taps, to manage a range of necessary vehicle administration from their seat.
However, Caura is also looking at expanding beyond the Jaguar Land Rover marque. With a recently launched web app and Android app launching soon, they are eying up a potential market that comprises nearly 40 million registered vehicles in the UK, and an insurance market worth over $17 billion.
They will also be using the funding to expand their coverage of charging in the UK and elsewhere. Caura can already handle the London Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and has recently added the Birmingham Clean Air Zone. Plans include coverage of all charging zones and tolls in the UK.
However, the London-based startup aims to handle almost every expense associated with car ownership, as well as zones and tolls. It already manages road tax, and the team are planning to help drivers manage parking, removing the headache of different parking regimes. They are also planning integration with the growing number of on-street electrical charging points.
Further, Caura is even looking at how the app can help cover car servicing, identifying not just when they are due to remind the driver, but also booking servicing. This would enable drivers to book an MOT or service in seconds, either with a drop-off or collection from a convenient location.
Collectively, the app removes a huge cognitive load from the driver. Replacing a fragmented system that’s spread across government agencies, local governments, insurers, and private providers with a single, easy to use phone app or in-car system. The expansions raise the prospect of an app that handles all facets of car ownership except the actual driving.
A big market for expansion
There are around 30 million drivers in the UK and the driving environment is constantly changing. Although charging zones and tolls have been relatively rare, local authorities have been increasingly looking at introducing them, while some new roads are now expected to be funded from tolls. And, as the proportion of electric vehicles rises, so has the number of providers of on-street charging points.
Collectively it means that car-drivers are more and more likely to have to manage multiple accounts, making Caura an increasingly attractive proposition that lets focus on driving, rather than managing, their vehicle.