Car keys are set to be replaced with a simple tap on a smartphone as early as 2017 with one major car manufacturer doing away with keys in favour of an app.
From next year, Volvo customers will be offered a smartphone app for their mobile phones to replace a physical car key to start the engine and lock or unlock their vehicle.
The new offering, which will utilise innovative Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology, acknowledges the popularity of smartphones and the prevalence of them in everyday life.
Seven out of 10 (70%) Kiwis now have a smartphone - a figure which has almost doubled in the past three years - and 91% of those people use their device every single day, according to Research New Zealand figures for 2015.
The widespread reliance on smartphones for everyday tasks rate has led Volvo to become the world’s first car manufacturer to offer a keyless car that will give drivers more options and flexibility in the use of their vehicles.
Customers will not only be able to access their car without carrying around a bulky keyring, but they will also be able to receive more than one digital key on their smartphone app, allowing them to access different Volvo cars in different locations.
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. Customers could then simply locate the rental car via GPS, unlock it and drive away all with their smartphone, avoiding long queues at airport or train station car rental desks.
The Volvo Cars’ digital key also means sharing a car with family members, friends or co-workers will be simple and convenient, as owners can send their digital key to other people via their mobile phones so that they can also use the car - without having to cut extra keys or do a physical handover.
“At Volvo, we believe new technology has to make our customers’ lives easier and save them time, which is exactly what these digital keys will be able to do,” says Coby Duggan, National Manager of Volvo New Zealand.
“Mobility needs are evolving, and so are our customers’ expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way. This innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared, and means a car can be used more often and efficiently by whoever the owner wishes to grant access to.”
Volvo will pilot the technology this year via its car sharing firm Sunfleet, stationed at Gothenburg airport in Sweden. A limited number of commercially available cars will be equipped with the new digital key technology in 2017.
Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them.