Cox Automotive acquires imaging, fleet-services businesses

Cox Automotive has acquired two firms that the company said fit into its strategies of serving dealer customers while also capitalizing on new growth areas such as mobility.

For undisclosed prices, the company bought San Francisco-based Fyusion, an imaging technology firm, and Dickinson Fleet Services, an Indiana-based mobile maintenance provider for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Cox Automotive President Steve Rowley said the purchases align with the company’s investment thesis, which includes the “core,” “adjacencies” and “new-growth areas.”

Fyusion falls squarely within Cox Automotive’s core business. The two companies have been working together since 2018, when they collaborated on 360-degree imaging technologies for the Manheim Express mobile wholesaling platform. They’ve also worked together on audio and video tags used for condition reports, and Rowley said the company’s artificial intelligence capabilities will allow for further creativity in vehicle imaging.

The acquisition comes as the wholesale-vehicle space has seen a major shift to digital sales in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic: Some 83 percent of Manheim’s inventory is sold to digital buyers.

“We’ve seen our dealers move to a digital environment, their customers are pushing them there, so this really creates a lot of credence for our wholesale business,” Rowley told Automotive News.

Cox views the acquisition of Dickinson, which has 700 mobile vehicles and 800 technicians, as key to its mobility efforts.

Rowley noted the breadth of fleet vehicles on North American roads, including being used for things such as dropping off packages over the holidays as more people stay at home in general.

“We really believe that fleet services is something we can be part of,” he said, adding that Dickinson will be an anchor tenant” for its Pivet mobility network, which has hubs in Atlanta, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The company measures the business in fleet services in terms of miles driven per vehicle.

“By 2030, we predict that the number of miles will be about 30 percent driven by the fleet companies,” Rowley said. “And today that probably sits somewhere around 6 to 7 percent. So we think there’s a lot of growth in that arena.”

Fyusion co-founder and CEO Radu Rusu will remain with the company, reporting to an internal board that includes Rowley and other Cox Automotive executives. Dickinson’s Mike Dickinson will also remain at Cox, reporting to Joe George, president of the Cox Automotive Mobility division.

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