AutoBot, a Beijing startup that makes diagnostic tools for cars (not the robots in disguise), has raised a $6 million Series A from Gobi Partners and ABC Capital. The company will use the funding for marketing, hiring and product research and development.
AutoBot’s main product is the AutoBot Mini OBD (on-board diagnostic) device, which users can plug into their car’s OBD-II outlet or cigarette lighter. It then collects and analyzes data about how the car is performing and if repairs are needed; users’ driving habits; fuel consumption; and car maintenance, among other things.
The information is then recorded in AutoBot’s mobile apps through a Bluetooth connection.
There are already several OBD devices on the market, including Dash and Automatic, but AutoBot seeks to differentiate through its software and apps.
For example, if a car needs a repair or fuel, the app will recommend nearby gas stations and service centers. This adds an O2O (online-to-offline) take to AutoBot’s business strategy. AutoBot’s app also allows drivers to connect with each other and map the best routes using GPS and community feedback.
CEO and co-founder Edwin Hao tells TechCrunch that AutoBot plans to add features, including automatic collision alerts in the future.
AutoBot is currently targeted mainly at consumers in China, which has the largest car market in the world by sales. More than 20,000 drivers currently use AutoBot products and many are first-time car owners. In the future, AutoBot plans to expand into more countries after localizing its products for each market.
“China’s automobile market has been the largest in the world since 2009. In recent years, Chinese drivers have expressed significant demand for smart and affordable hardware solutions like AutoBot that improve driver experience and safety. As such, we are very optimistic about AutoBot’s prospects in this market space,” said Thomas G. Tsao, managing partner at Gobi Partners.