Volvo Cars is testing replacement of car keys with a smartphone app, in an effort to become the world’s first car maker to offer cars without keys from 2017. According to a Volvo press release, customers will soon be offered an application for their iPhones and Androids to replace the physical key with a digital key. The car maker says that its innovative Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology will offer customers far more flexibility, enabling them to “benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars”.
The Volvo app will enable the digital key on the driver’s mobile phone to do everything a physical key currently does, such as locking or unlocking the doors or the trunk and allowing the engine to be started. The technology will also offer customers the possibility to receive more than one digital key on their app allowing them to access different Volvo cars in different locations. Car owners will also be able to send their digital key to other people via their mobile phones so that they can also use the car.
“At Volvo we are not interested in technology for the sake of technology. New technology has to make our customers’ lives easier and save them time. Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers’ expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way,” said Henrik Green, Vice President Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars. “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 whoever the owner wishes.”
“There are obviously many permutations when it comes to how this shared key technology can be used,” added 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.”
The company plans to pilot this technology in spring 2016. A limited number of commercially available cars will also be equipped with the new digital key technology in 2017.