Volvo launching a digital key capable of doing everything a physical key does

Volvo is set to become the first major carmaker to launch a car without a physical key. The Swedish automotive giant plans on allowing consumers to use their smartphones to access and drive cars.

Volvo is testing out a new app which serves as a digital key capable of doing everything a physical key currently does, such as locking, starting the engine, and opening the boot.

The carmaker said: “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 – according to their changing mobility needs.

“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
Volvo customers will be offered an application for their mobile phones to replace the physical key with a digital key. The innovative 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 digital key will make sharing a car easier and more convenient. Owners of the car will be able to send the digital key to other people (such as friends and family) via their smartphones so that they also have access to the vehicle.

“At Volvo we are not interested in technology for the sake of technology. New technology has to make our customers’ lives easier and save them time. Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers’ expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way,” said Henrik Green, Vice President Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars.

“Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared. Instead of sitting idle in a parking lot the entire day, cars could be used more often and efficiently by whoever the owner wishes.”

Volvo is set to pilot the new technology this spring via its Gothenburg-based car sharing firm Sunfleet.

The automaker says that a “limited number” of commercially available cars will feature the new digital key technology as soon as next year. It should be noted that physical keys will still to be offered for customers who want them.

Volvo Cars’ new digital key will be shown off at the Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona at the Ericsson booth.