Volvo leads the ‘keyless’ movement, set to offer digital keys by 2017

Article by Christian A., on February 24, 2016

Keys, with its association to security, have always been a part of human existence and probably go as far back in time when the first locks and doors were invented. Yet, nothing seems to be immune to the onslaught of technology and the ubiquitous key may soon go the way of all things ancient, like the analog phone or the dinosaurs.

Volvo, in a revolutionary move for the entire auto industry, revealed its plan to be known as the first car manufacturer to make cars without keys as early as 2017. Replacing the physical keys will be an application for the Volvo customer’s phone that will act as its digital key.

To those who haven’t heard of the term yet, the digital key has been around for quite a while now and is considered to be even more secure than a physical key because it cannot be duplicated or tampered with. The new Volvo app will use the uniqueness of the customer’s mobile phone to act as its sole access to the car and can do everything a physical car key does.

It can unlock and lock doors, truck and even start the engine. However, being a product of convenience, the keyless system will offer more features to the customers than what a physical key does. For example, using a single phone, the customer may access different cars in different locations.

The app could potentially be used to book and even pay for rental cars in the future. Another cool way that the digital key-and-app system could be used is locating the rental car via GPS, which could be a hassle especially if it is your first time using the car and you don’t know how it looks like.

Sharing cars is also very convenient with the use of this new technology from Volvo. Owners can just send their digital key to the mobile phones of the people they have permitted to use their cars, whether it’s family members or co-workers. According to Henrik Green, VP Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars, new technologies being utilized at Volvo have the ultimate goal of making the lives of their customers easier and simpler.

Green added that Volvo’s digital key technology has the potential to change how a Volvo car is used and shared, which could mean a more efficient car utilization in the future instead of just sitting idly in a parking lot all day. Volvo will test this technology via its car sharing firm Sunfleet at Gothenburg airport, Sweden this year. By 2017, a limited number of cars will be available to customers which incorporate the new digital key technology.

Martin Rosengvist, New Car Director, Special Products at Volvo car, admits that since this is a completely new technology, it is possible that they might not have foreseen all its possible applications and they would love to entertain new ideas to maximize its use. Volvo is a pioneer in the new digital key technology having first implemented its working use in 2015. In this application in Sweden, online shopping is delivered directly to the car by providing a one-time key to the delivery company.

However, Volvo will ultimately concede to the preferences of its customers, stating that a physical key will still be available to those who prefer them. This new Volvo technology is set to be shown at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (February 25) in Barcelona Spain at the Ericsson booth.

Press Release


For decades, drivers have been accustomed to accessing and driving cars with physical keys. But no longer. In a ground-breaking move for the automotive industry, Volvo Cars plans to become the world’s first car manufacturer to offer cars without keys from 2017.

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 new Volvo app enables the digital key on the customer’s mobile phone to do everything a physical key currently does, such as locking or unlocking the doors or the boot and allowing the engine to be started.

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 means 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.

“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 of 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 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.

“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 is a pioneer with new digital key solutions. In 2015, the Swedish premium car maker launched the world’s first commercial offer to have online shopping delivered directly to the car by providing a one-time digital key to a delivery company. Now the digital key technology will also be made available for customers.

Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them.

Volvo’s innovative keyless car technology will be shown for the first time at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (22-25 February) in Barcelona at the Ericsson booth.

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Topics: volvo, technology



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