Automatic Labs Pulls Plug On Car-Tracking Service

Automatic Labs, which made accessories that help drivers analyse car-related travel patterns, said it is pulling the plug on its business as of 29 May due to a coronavirus-related decline in usage.

Automatic said the Covid-19 pandemic had “adversely impacted” its business and advised users to remove its devices from their cars and recycle them.

“With fewer customers purchasing and leasing vehicles and drivers on the road, we unfortunately do not see a path forward for our business,” the company said in a statement on its website.

Automatic said it plans to continue offering its service through 28 May and would allow users to export their data via an online portal through 28 June.

Personal data

After that the firm said it would permanently delete or anonymise all personal data, except for what it needs to retain for legal and accounting purposes or for corporate records.

It said customers would be offered a rebate for the service, the amount of which is to be based on which Automatic device is used and how much it has been employed since it was purchased.

Users must apply for the rebate by 15 June, and must be able to provide proof of purchase and account information.

Automatic’s first devices relied on a nearby mobile phone to send data from an in-car device to the cloud, but more recent hardware included a built-in cellular data connection.

Business turmoil

Uses for the devices included logging work-related transportation and analysing fuel mileage.

Automatic is one of many companies whose businesses have taken a hit as a result of Covid-19-related lockdowns.

Even companies that have benefited have often faced rising pandemic-related costs.

For instance, Amazon last week reported a revenue jump in the first quarter, but also said it expected to spend all its second-quarter profits – some £4bn – on coronavirus measures such as testing facilities and protective equipment for staff.

Ironically, Automatic’s owner, SiriusXM, also beat its first-quarter earnings expectations last week due to increased demand for its online and satellite radio services during the pandemic.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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