Now, Volvo is making a run for techies by doing away with physical keys starting next year. Rather than using an actual key or even a wireless fob, Volvo will offer cars that can instead unlock/lock and start the engine using using a smartphone application, in essence serving as a digital key. All functions that could normally be accomplished with a key fob, including opening the trunk, can be accomplished through the app.
By relying on a smartphone app to takeover vehicle functions, owners can store more than one “key” allowing Volvo owners to cut down on the number of fobs they carry around. In addition, it also opens up Volvo vehicles to be used in ride-sharing services, as a digital key can be assigned to an authorized party anywhere in the world to use the vehicle.
Using the app people could potentially book and pay for a rental car anywhere in the world and have the digital car key delivered to their phone immediately. On arrival a customer could simply locate the rental car via GPS, unlock it and drive away, avoiding those frustrating queues at airport or train station car rental desks.
“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, Volvo Cars Vice President Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management. “Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared.”
Volvo will start a pilot program later this year, and will introduce the technology on select Volvo vehicles starting in 2017. And just in case you were wondering, you can still choose to use an “old fashioned” key fob if you don’t want to use this newfangled smartphone app.