A new smartphone app claimed to prevent drivers from ever forgetting to pay a parking fine, congestion charge or any other car-related fee has raised $4.2 million (£3.02m) from investors to expand its product line.
The most storied participant in Caura’s latest funding round is Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) subsidiary InMotion Ventures, which is investigating integrating the app into its cars, “offering in-car payment for parking, tolls, tax, and congestion”. JLR said that would be “a huge benefit to our customers”.
Other companies that have invested in Caura include Road Ventures, Pareto Holdings and Quiet Capital, alongside notable individual investors, including unnamed Apple and Google executives.
The software, called Caura after the company that developed it, serves as a diary for vehicle owners in the UK, reminding them of important upcoming events, such as road tax, MOT test and insurance expiry dates.
Users of the Financial Conduct Authority-approved app can also pay fees for parking, toll roads and congestion charges without leaving the app’s homepage, with notifications reminding drivers when payments are due.
The injection of £3.02 million will be put towards creating a new B2B-specific version of Caura’s app and potentially integrating a function for managing electric car charging. It will also enable users to make payments for entering Clean Air Zones, low-emissions areas that are being rolled out across the country this year.
“The billions of pounds in penalty fees UK consumers incur from mistakes or late payments for parking, congestion charges, road tax, tolls, MOT and insurance are totally avoidable,” said Sai Lakshmi, founder and CEO of Caura.
“The incumbent system - fragmented, confusing and outdated - isn't only costly but a massive source of anxiety. By eliminating the need for dozens of apps and services, we're removing hassle, confusion and unnecessary expenses of car ownership.”
The app also reminds users when their car’s MOT certificate expires. Currently, 25% of UK MOTs are conducted late, meaning around 8 million cars on the road could have potentially dangerous defects such as bald tyres, worn brakes or blown bulbs.
Caura is currently available only for iOS users but could be rolled out to Android devices later this year. It has been downloaded by tens of thousands of car owners across the UK and has an Apple App Store rating of 4.8 out of five.
Causa says its app’s appearance and usability are inspired by Apple products. Lakshmi spent several years working at Apple before founding Caura. He has also founded a platform in partnership with the NHS that allows people to order repeat prescriptions.