Modern drivers have always needed a key of some sort to start their cars. Many keys today are nothing more than RFID chips inside a fob to open doors and start the car, but they are keys nonetheless. Volvo has a plan to eliminate keys and the automaker says that it will be the first to offer cars without keys starting in 2017.
Volvo customers will be offered an app for their mobile devices that replaces the physical key with a digital one. The app uses Bluetooth to communicate with the car, unlock the car, and start the ignition. Volvo says that the app will give owners flexibility in how they use and share their cars. The digital key would do everything a physical key does including locking and unlocking doors, opening the trunk, and starting the car.
Volvo says that its digital key concept would make it easy for people to book a rental car and have the key delivered to their smartphone anywhere in the world. Volvo owners would also be able to share their keys with friends or family that need to borrow the car via the app. No more having to meet someone and give them keys to your car.
Volvo plans to pilot its digital keys this winter via car sharing firm Sunfleet at the Gothenburg airport in Sweden. Volvo will then equip a limited number of commercially available cars with the digital key tech 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.” Volvo SA was unable to comment on whether this technology would reach SA soon. Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them.