Volvo plans to sell you a car without giving you a set of keys in the not too distant future and this is not a joke.
Beginning 2017, Volvo will be rolling out an app that can be installed into your smartphone that will replace the physical key fob with a digital one.
The system operates via Bluetooth and incorporates all operational functionalities currently used in smart keyless access systems – locking/unlocking as well as starting the engine.
Within the app, users can store the digital key of more than one Volvo vehicle, giving this technology potential application in the car sharing and car rental business as well.
According to Volvo, a user can potentially book a rental vehicle online and have the vehicle’s digital key relayed to their phones. Upon arrival, the said user can utilize his or her phone’s GPS function to find the car’s precise location. (Guess that means us motoring journalists will need to download this app too when reviewing future Volvo test cars.)
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.
Volvo will give this technology its first public appearance next week at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (22-25 February) in Barcelona at the Ericsson booth.
If the idea of having your car key stored virtually on your phone frightens you, Volvo has assured that physical keys will continue to be available for as long as there is demand for them.
For keen adopters of this new technology when it hits the market, remember to keep your phones charged at all times.