Keys are getting smarter like smartphones and because key functions can be activated wirelessly, keys really will not be needed for Volvo car buys because Volvo Cars plans to be the world’s first automaker to offer cars without keys from 2017. By using smartphones via Bluetooth connections to unlock car functions, Volvo says that digital keys will allow easy car rentals, car sharing services and for other family members to drive the vehicle.
Volvo will be given an app for smartphones to replace the physical key with a digital key. Volvo claims that Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology, will offer Volvo customers far more flexibility, enabling them to benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars.
The Volvo app enables all physical key functions such as locking or unlocking the doors or the boot and allowing the engine to be started.
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.
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.
Volvo Cars’ digital key means that sharing a car will become both simple and convenient. Volvo owners will be able to send their digital key to other people via their mobile phones so that they can also use the car, this may be family members, friends or co-workers in a company.
Another added perk is that smart key fobs can be very expensive when lost, costing in the hundreds of dollars. If the battery goes dead on a key fob, it is difficult to find the correct size while smartphones can be recharged with a USB cable or wirelessly.
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.
Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them.