Do it yourself car-maintenance software firm eyes potential of self-driving cars

Tel Aviv-based Engie releases its Fleet app, to help car fleet operators, including rental and leasing companies, keep tabs on their vehicles

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

The Engie software and app lets car owners or car-fleet managers know if their vehicles need servicing (Courtesy)
The Engie software and app lets car owners or car-fleet managers know if their vehicles need servicing (Courtesy)

Machines, unlike humans, don’t get tired. So, in the not so distant future, when cars will be partially or fully autonomous, vehicles will be clocking up much longer distances without needing to rest. But they will also need more intensive maintenance.

This could present a huge opportunity for an Israeli startup Engie, whose “do-it-yourself” software scans cars and alerts drivers to issues that need attention. The Engie app also provides a list of nearby recommended garages as well as recommended prices for needed work.

The Tel Aviv-based firm recently launched its Engie Fleet app, which will help car fleet operators to keep tabs on autonomous and connected vehicles that will be driving thousands and thousands of miles.

“The fully electric cars we are already seeing on the roads have introduced a whole range of sensors into the vehicles — from tracking temperatures within the auto to giving drivers greater information,” said Alon Hendelman, who co-founded the firm in 2014 with Waze co-founder Uri Levine, Gal Aharon and Yarden Gross.

Alon Hendelman the co-founder of Engie (Courtesy)

“All of this creates a greater need for maintenance,” he said.

The software is also relevant for car rental and leasing companies, which need to manage large fleets of vehicles, he said.

Fleet managers will get alerts for car faults and unusual car behavior; service reminders; real-time tracking, so vehicles can be sent roadside assistance or directed to the nearest auto shop; the ability to record their chats with drivers or passengers; and a record of mileage and fuel consumption, giving them a better picture of costs.

Engie was originally set up to help consumers feel less lost when they find a problem in their car: most people don’t understand what goes on under the hood, leaving them utterly reliant on car mechanics when they drive into a garage to get their car serviced or repaired.

“It is a frustrating experience,” Hendelman said, “and can be unpleasant as well, because of the huge knowledge gaps that make us a captive audience to whatever we are being told.”

Engie’s software was developed to give drivers more knowledge and certainty, he said. about what is actually going on with your car, Hendelman said.

The software connects to a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) connection — standard in most cars — through a small sensor device (in the future it will connect directly to the car’s computer). Once plugged in, the device connects to an app via Bluetooth and transmits data about the car’s condition — battery strength, how clean the carburetor is, fuel consumption, and more. Engie then uploads and analyzes that information, determines what, if any, repairs or service are needed, and provides users with a recommended list of garages and prices.

The constant connection to the car lends precision to Engie’s diagnostics and predictive maintenance, Hendelman said.

The Fleet application of the software developed by Engie can alert fleet managers about faults, maintenance needs of vehicles (Courtesy)

Engie is being used by over 150,000 drivers in Latin America, the UK and Israel, he said. Engie Fleet is already used by several leasing companies in Israel and abroad.

The company has raised some $7.5 million to date from investors including the insurance arm of BNP Paribas bank, Levine, OurCrowd and others. The startup is looking to raise added funds, to enlarge its diagnostics capabilities and penetrate new markets, like in Europe and the US, Hendelman said.

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