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If you’re a loyal Volvo buyer, prepare for something a little different next time you walk into your dealership. The Swedish carmaker is set to start selling cars without keys (physical or electronic) as of 2017.
Volvo customers will instead be offered an application on their mobile phones to replace the physical key with a digital key. According to the Swedish motoring firm, the Bluetooth-based digital key technology will offer Volvo customers far more flexibility, “enabling them to benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars”.
Using the app, Volvo drivers will be able to lock and unlock doors, open the boot of their vehicle and start the engine.
While the concept may seem a little odd to owners who exclusively drive the car they own, as well as people who struggle with cellphone battery life, Volvo’s thinking slightly differently with this particular move.
The app could, for instance, be particularly useful to people renting their car out during the day, or for groups of people in a carshare programme.
Volvo also thinks the app could be useful for rental car agencies. Using the app, it says, 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, the 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 kiosks.
“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’ expectations to access cars in an uncomplicated way,” says 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 whomever the owner wishes.”
Volvo will pilot this technology in spring 2016 via its car sharing firm Sunfleet, stationed at Gothenburg airport, Sweden. A limited number of commercially-available cars will be equipped with the new digital key technology in 2017.
“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.”