Back in 2013, Automatic launched with a simple idea: by plugging a simple dongle into your car’s OBD-II port, and connecting that to an app, you could easily make your car smart. Over time, the company added features like collision detection, roadside assistance, gas mileage readings, engine data, and more. But now the company is shutting down, effective May 28th.
The beautiful part of Automatic was the simplicity and ease of use. You bought the Automatic Pro dongle and plugged it into your car’s OBD-II port (standard on cars since the mid-’90s). Then it connected to an app on your phone and essentially turned your vehicle into a smart car.
It provided useful data like nearby gas stations and could track your trips. Automatic even pulled all the data it gathered together to let you know how much your journey cost based on how far you drove, fuel efficiency, and any gas station stops you made. It provided engine alert information too.
Initially, all the features came with the dongle. But after Sirius XM (yes, the satellite radio company) bought Automatic in 2017, it lowered the price of the dongle and introduced a subscription service. Some features stayed free while others required the subscription.
Now the Automatic is shutting down. In a statement on its site, it attributes the turn of events to the ongoing pandemic:
Just like many other companies in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted our business. With fewer consumers purchasing and leasing vehicles and drivers on the road, we unfortunately do not see a path forward for our business.
Service will continue until May 28th, and users who rely on third-party integrations will see an end of service on June 28th. Automatic is advising users to recycle the dongle. The company is offering rebates, depending on how much you paid for the dongle and how much you used it.
If you used Automatic’s service, you have until June 30th to download any driving data you want to keep. After that, the company plans to delete the data. It also promises not to sell your data before removing it.
If you want to pursue a rebate, you’ll need to visit Automatic’s website and submit your request before June 15th.