Three major automakers have invested good money into a startup that could change the way roadside assistance is handled.
The venture arms of BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Porsche have invested a combined $21 million in Urgent.ly, a US-based startup that offers its services in North America, Europe and Asia. The hope is that this system will reduce the time it takes help to arrive, as some service providers arranged through insurance companies or automakers can take hours to arrive.
Urgent.ly is, in essence, a roadside assistance provider that takes an Uber-like approach to its operations, acting as a middleman connecting drivers in need to tow or mobile-service companies that are able to help. Instead of using humans to pair drivers to service providers, Urgent.ly does it all with algorithms built into its platform.
"The old model of roadside assistance must make way for a modern, more digital approach," said Kasper Sage, a partner at BMW i Ventures, in a statement. "Urgent.ly will allow OEMs around the world to provide their customers the kind of real-time and connected digital experience they now expect in everything from food delivery to ride-sharing."
For BMW at least, Urgent.ly will collaborate with the automaker's own roadside service platform, offering its services to owners of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles in the US. With a majority of roadside-assistance providers already plugged into Urgent.ly's system, this could be a huge boon for any driver looking for quick assistance on the roadside.