Jaguar Land Rover backs ex-Apple exec-founded Caura in $4.2m round to develop in-car payments

UK-based vehicle management platform Caura secured $4.2m in seed funding to develop its application and integrate with in-car infotainment systems.

The round was led by TwinFocus Capital Partners, with participation from InMotion Ventures – the CVC arm of Jaguar Land Rover whose vehicles will be the first to benefit from Caura’s integration, Road Ventures, Pareto Holdings and Quiet Capital, as well as Jon Oringer, founder of Shutterstock, Antony Sheriff, former CEO of McLaren Automotive, and Rob Wilmot, serial entrepreneur and advisor to the UK Government, as well as unnamed Apple and Google executives.

The company intends to use the funds to expand its products, including a new B2B offering for car manufacturers. With a recently launched web app and Android app launching soon, Caura is eying a potential market that comprises nearly 40 million registered vehicles in the UK, and an insurance market worth over $17bn.

It will also be using the funding to expand its 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.

In addition, 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.

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.

Led by Dr Sai Lakshmi, former Apple exec who also founded Echo, Caura allows users to input their vehicle’s registration number to automatically set up payments for services such as city congestion charges, tolls, tax, MOT and insurance.

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.

Lakshmi 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.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures MD Sebastian Peck said, “In-car infotainment systems are currently primarily used for entertainment, communication, and navigation in our Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. We are really excited about the prospect of seamlessly integrating the Caura platform offering in-car payment for parking, tolls, tax, and congestion, which would be a huge benefit to our customers. We are thrilled to back the Caura team’s vision of delivering a digital ownership experience that is setting a new benchmark for the industry.”

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