Charleston car-technology developer Zubie secures $8 million in funding

Zubie's plug-in device sends data from a car's onboard computer to a smartphone app.

A local mobile technology business with a device that connects car dashboards to smartphones has compleeted another round of fundraising.

Zubie said Monday that five firms led by Nokia Growth Partners and Magna International invested $8 million from the new Connected Car Fund.

That brings the total the Sullivan's Island-based company has raised to about $18 million since last year.

Its Zubie Key device has been on the market for about a year. It plugs into a car's diagnostics port and uses wireless technology to dispatch reports to iPhones and Android-based devices equipped with the Zubie app. Among other functions, it's designed to detect engine trouble, track a vehicle's location, monitor driving habits and estimate repair bills.

It also sends alerts when a car is turned off for a long period of time.

A year of service, including the plug-in tool, is about $100.

Part of Zubie's strategy is to seek tie-ins with other industries. For example, insurers are interested in using the analytics to offer discounts and other incentives to safe drivers who opt in and volunteer their information. Also, dealerships could use the data to calculate more precise values for the used cars they buy and sell.

Formerly known as GreenLight Connectivity Solutions, Zubie was spun out of retail giant Best Buy and has offices locally and in Minneapolis. It's now led by Sullivan's Island resident Tim Kelly, a former senior executive at Sprint's wireless unit.

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Kelly has said Zubie wants to grow its business in the Charleston area.

Three previous Zubie backers also contributed to the latest round of funding: Castrol innoVentures, part of global lubricants giant Castrol; communications firm Comporium Inc., and OpenAir Equity Partners.

"The Connected Car Fund anticipates the potential for disruptive innovation in the automotive sector as the most significant unconnected mobile asset comes online," Paul Asel of Nokia Growth Partners said in a written statement.

Zubie also announced that Asel has joined its board of directors.