Volvo Cars plans to become the first car manufacturer to offer vehicles without keys in 2017. Volvo customers will be offered a mobile app on their smartphones that acts as a digital key.
The new Volvo mobile app enables the digital key to do everything a physical key currently does, including locking and unlocking doors and starting the engine, according to the company.
This Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology will also provide customers with the possibility to receive more than one digital key on their app, allowing them access to different Volvo cars in different locations, says the company. If a Volvo owner wants to share their car, they could send their digital key to other people via their smartphones.
Using the app, people could book and pay for a rental car and have the digital car key immediately delivered to their phone.
“At Volvo, we are not interested in technology for the sake of technology,” said Henrik Green, vice president Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars. “New technology has to make our customers’ lives easier and save them time. Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers’ expectations to access cars in an uncomplicated way. Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared. Instead of sitting idle in a parking lot the entire day, cars could be used more often and efficiently by whomever the owner wishes.”
Volvo plans to test this technology in spring 2016 via its carsharing firm Sunfleet at Sweden’s Gothenburg Airport. Physical keys will continue to be offered if wanted.
“There are obviously many permutations when it comes to how this shared key technology can be used,” said Martin Rosenqvist, New Car Director, Special Products at Volvo Cars. “We look forward to seeing how else this technology might be used in the future, and we welcome any and all ideas.”