Israeli start-up Engie wants to make car breakdowns less traumatic. The company’s product has two parts - a device that attaches to a vehicle’s on-board computer (OBC) and has a Bluetooth component, which transmits information to the second part - the mobile app. The app analyzes the data received from the OBC and displays it to the user with simple graphics.
In this way, the app can check whether the engine oil pressure is correct, check battery status, display average fuel consumption, and also check other vehicle systems such as problems in the alternator, the immobilizer, safety systems, gear shift, and so on. The analysis is carried out by an Android app (an iOS version is expected later on), which is currently at the beta stage. In addition, after mileage and vehicle model have been set, the app notifies the user when an annual service is due, and informs users of the routine maintenance that will need to be carried out, including average prices of spare parts.
According to Engie co-founder and CEO Yarden Gross, “The company exists to treat the problem that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world - the sense of helplessness at the garage. It begins with a warning light turning on, or an unidentified noise, but we have no way of knowing how it will end. Engie was founded with the goal of solving this problem, to restore control and a sense of security to the driver, and to provide him or her with a comprehensive, real-time information solution.”
One of Engie's main features is the ability to carry out a price comparison between different garages. At present, ten garages in the Tel Aviv area participating in the service, and in the next month or two the service will expand to cover the entire Gush Dan (Greater Tel Aviv) area. In this way, Engie seeks to generate price competition, while still maintaining quality. In the future, the business model will be based on this service, with the company taking a commission on referrals of customers to garages. Gross explains that this service benefits both sides. "Customers emerge happy, because they have the means of determining that they are not being swindled, while for their part the garages gain a better understanding of what's wrong with the vehicle, and can deal with it more easily," he says.
The company says that the device that operates with their app works with any vehicle manufactured since 1996, that it is issued to each app user for free, and that it is authorized for use by all automakers. It does not perform any action other than to transmit data to the app. To receive a device, one must register by downloading the app or on the company’s website. The device is sent to the user by mail within seven days, together with installation instructions.
Engie was founded by three graduates of the Zell Entrepreneurship Program at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya: Gross, Gal Aharon, and Alon Hendelman. The company has raised tens of thousands of dollars thus far from Uri Levine, who is also chairman of the board. Levine is one of the founders of Waze, and was chairman of the board there as well. Today, he is also an investor in and chairman of FeeX, which offers a service for comparing and reducing financial service management fees, and he invests in various other start-ups as well.
In an interview with “Globes - G Magazine” in April of this year, Levine revealed his intention to invest in the field. “If you go to the garage, they connect to the vehicle’s computer, and tell you that you need to replace this part or that, and that the carburetor is also shot, and needs to be replaced. This sounds reasonable to most people, and they will pay, even though, for a good few years now, cars have not had carburetors. There are a few such situations in life, where if people don’t know what they are buying or what they are getting, then the lack of information serves one side and harms the consumer. As a result, a great deal of money is being taken from you without you realizing. So you feel helpless at the garage, and I am looking for a solution in this area as well.”
The automotive malfunction monitoring service that Engie offers is similar to the service launched by mobile operator Orange a few months ago, Orange Smart Drive. Orange’s device provides data and notifications on engine temperature, battery charge status, fuel consumption, analysis of the driver’s technical skill in sudden braking, sharp turns, etc., as well as data on driving directions, hours of driving, and parking location. In addition to Bluetooth, the Orange device has sensors and GPS, and is the result of collaboration with Israeli company Trafficlog, which operates in this field. Unlike Engie, Orange sells the service for NIS 25 per month. Gross points out that Orange's service focuses more on feedback to the driver, with an emphasis on safety, whereas Engie places greater emphasis on vehicle maintenance and empowering drivers.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 15, 2014
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