Volvo is planning to become the world’s first motor manufacturer to offer cars without keys from 2017.
Replacing the conventional car key and fob with a smartphone application, Volvo owners will be able to automatically unlock their car when they walk up to it, then lock it again when they park and walk away.
Volvo says the Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology will offer “customers far more flexibility, enabling them to benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars”.
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’s digital key would also mean 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 they can also use the car. This may be to family members, friends or co-workers in a company.
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.