It’s a familiar meme in American television and films: a motorist, helpless without a car because it’s in for vehicle service, pleads with a comically uncaring vehicle technician about when the car will be ready, only to be promised shadowy dates in the distant future. There’s still a lot of mystery when it comes to service: estimates are often way off, and promised repair time lines aren’t met. “Courtesy cars” are often unavailable, and motorists must find alternative transportation in the meantime, perhaps for weeks.
There’s are a number of startup companies looking to change the $70 billion American auto repair market, including the way we get our cars serviced. For vehicle owners, this is a good thing. Two-year-old Wrench is one of those innovators. Founded in 2016, Wrench now operates its service in eight states and cities including Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Portland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver. There are approximately 50,000 vehicles on the Wrench platform with 70 mechanics/technicians across all markets, according to Ed Peterson, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Since the company’s inception, it has raised $5.3 million in Series A funding.
Wrench is about to get bigger, thanks to the acquisition of Otobots, a Chicago-based company that also provides “mobile mechanics.” In addition to Chicago, Otobots operates throughout Texas and California. Terms of the acquisition by Wrench were not disclosed. Through the acquisition, Otobot customers will get access to the Wrench platform that streamlines technicians and other services to maintain cars. With the acquisition, Wrench hopes to have 100,000 cars on the platform.
Here’s how it works: customers connect to the Wrench web site or smartphone app, input information about their vehicle and the work they need done and (this is the appealing part) when and where they would like to schedule the service. This could include the vehicle owner’s driveway or office parking garage.
“This acquisition accelerates our national expansion to deliver our goal of removing the hassle of owning and maintaining your car,” Petersen told Ratchet+Wrench. “We feel validated that our customer-centric approach has been a winning formula. We‘ve gained a ton of confidence in our business model and are excited to continued rolling out nationally.”
Mobile mechanic services such as Wrench and the larger YourMechanic claim they can save vehicle owners about 30 percent over traditional garage services with their business model.