STELLA Automotive AI, a provider of automotive artificial intelligence technology, has closed an oversubscribed Series A financing round that raised $19.7 million, according to the Presidio Group, STELLA’s exclusive financial advisor for the Series A financing.

STELLA said the funds, which include both newly invested capital and outstanding convertible notes that converted into this Series A issuance, will be used to drive market growth and support ongoing product enhancement and development.

The capital came from existing backers and several new investors from the auto retail sector, Presidio said, including strategic partner Reynolds and Reynolds and nine new strategic dealer investors: Qvale Auto Group, OREMOR Automotive Group, Mills Automotive Group, Bowers Automotive Group, MileOne Autogroup, Flow Automotive, MBB Auto Group, Ford Family Investments and West Herr Auto Group.

“The excitement the market is showing for STELLA’s AI technology is thrilling,” CEO Rich Sands said in a release. “Since our founding, STELLA has aimed to put dealers first as it delivers products that both improve dealership efficiency and drive a best-in-class customer experience. The confidence demonstrated by our investors in this Series A round further validates our vision of driving transformational change in auto retailing with our technology.”

STELLA’s AI assistant is designed to simultaneously handle unlimited inbound calls as it engages in natural language conversations 24/7 to improve the customer experience. The company said the assistant is trained on a wide range of automotive retail topics and can answer frequently asked questions, as well as scheduling service and sales appointments.

The expansion of STELLA’s strategic dealer investor group allows the company to continue to enhance and expand its technological capabilities.

“Having dealers on board as early investors and users of STELLA’s technology creates a symbiotic relationship that benefits both parties,” Presidio managing director Keith Style said.

“Strategic investors who have deployed those solutions provide real-time feedback, enabling STELLA to quickly enhance its current product offerings and develop a robust roadmap of future products that dealers want to deploy in their stores.”

STELLA’s products integrate with existing dealership software offered by dealership software provider Reynolds and Reynolds, which gives STELLA another avenue to test and refine its AI solutions.

“As we look to the future of automotive retail and the positive impact artificial intelligence can have, two things are clear,” Reynolds president Chris Walsh said. “First, the broader an ecosystem we can build for AI to interact with, the more powerful it will be. And second, the data layer AI technology uses to make decisions will determine how much benefit it will have for retailers and our industry as a whole.

“Our investment in STELLA is a great launching pad to take AI in automotive retail to the next level.”

Presidio CEO Brodie Cobb said Reynolds and Reynolds’ involvement “underscores the tremendous value inherent in STELLA’s technology and its ability to improve dealership efficiency and profitability and enhance the customer experience.”

“The industry’s strategic venture investors see huge potential in artificial intelligence to transform the aspects of vehicle sales and service that haven’t always worked seamlessly,” he said. “STELLA’s innovative products and this successful financing round further cement the promise AI holds for the industry.”