Volvo has announced plans to become the first keyless car maker, replacing physical car keys with a smartphone app. The technology has been demonstrated for the first time at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.
A pilot programme has kicked off in Sweden using 20 rental cars, with a view to making the keyless system available commercially in 2017. Participating drivers will also be given a physical key, just in case! As the company acknowledges, phones do run out of battery life, but believe that drivers will be incentivised to keep their phones well charged if they are the only way in to the car.
Keyless drivers will be given an app for their phones that lets them unlock the doors and start the engine through a Bluetooth connection. Through the app, customers will also be able to use more than one “digital key,” meaning they can access different Volvo cars in different locations depending on where they are. Drivers can even let friends drive the car – even if they’re miles away from each other – by granting them access through the app on their smartphones.
Henrik Green, vice president of product strategy & vehicle line management at Volvo said of the keyless development that:
“(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. Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared.”
Volvo is also experimenting with a food delivery scheme in Sweden, where drivers can have their weekly shop delivered to their car boot.