Volvo Cars has announced plans to become the world’s first car manufacturer to offer cars without keys from 2017, providing customers with entirely new ways to use and share cars.
The Swedish carmaker said it will offer its customers an innovative, Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology that will work with a mobile phone application to replace physical key with a digital key.
“The new Volvo app enables the digital key on the customer’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 company said in a media statement.
“This new 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 – according to their changing mobility needs.”
Volvo said the app could potentially be used to book and pay for a rental car anywhere in the world, allowing users to have the digital car key delivered to their phone immediately. The customer will then simply locate the rental car via GPS, unlock it and drive away, avoiding frustrating queues at airport or train station car rental desks.
The new technology also means that Volvo owners will be able to send their digital key to other family members, friends or co-workers 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.”
Martin Rosenqvist, New Car Director, Special Products at Volvo Cars, said the technology will be trialled in spring 2016 via the company’s car sharing firm Sunfleet, stationed at Gothenburg airport, Sweden.
“There are obviously many permutations when it comes to how this shared key technology can be used,” added Mr Rosenqvist.
“We look forward to seeing how else this technology might be used in the future and we welcome any and all ideas.”
Volvo’s innovative keyless car technology is being shown for the first time at the Mobile World Congress 2016, which is taking place on 22-25 February in Barcelona.