Volvo wants to offer cars without keys starting in 2017
Smartphones have become increasingly important in a vehicle. If Volvo has its way, within the next few years, its importance will rise markedly as it grows to replace your car key.
In lieu of a physical key, Volvo plans to offer a mobile phone application that contains a digital car key. It'll let you do everything a physical key does -- open the doors, open the trunk and start the engine. The app will function as a key ring of sorts, so folks can have multiple keys for multiple vehicles at the ready.
Clearly, this kind of tech can be used for more than just personal car ownership. Volvo envisions receiving rental-car keys immediately after reserving one, and a car-sharing economy where multiple people can wield digital keys for the same vehicle.
"Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared," said Henrik Green, a Volvo's vice president of product strategy. "Instead of sitting idle in a parking lot the entire day, cars could be used more often and efficiently by whoever the owner wishes."
Luddites will be pleased to know that the company will still continue to offer a key for buyers that want one. Not that this idea is even close to the masses yet -- a pilot program will start this spring, at Sweden's Gothenburg airport, where Volvo operates a car-sharing firm. Following that, "a limited number of commercially available cars will be equipped with the new digital key technology in 2017," Volvo's press release states.
Volvo says its tech is "Bluetooth-enabled," but it doesn't go into detail beyond that. If the connection between car and phone is, in fact, based on Bluetooth, it'll be similar to the system that GM will soon use in its car-sharing enterprise, Maven.