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Volvo unveils digital car key for release in 2017

24 Feb 2016  | Christoph Hammerschmidt

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Car keys will soon be a thing of the past, at least for those who drive Volvo cars. The Swedish auto manufacturer aims to launch digital key-operated cars from 2017.

Volvo will offer an application for their smartphones that replaces the physical car key. This app will connect to the vehicle via a Bluetooth link. Benefits, according to the carmaker, are more flexibility and new options to share cars. The digital car key can be copied by the authorised user and transferred temporarily or permanently to other persons. In the case of a loss, it can be revoked remotely.

The app enables the digital key on the customer's smartphone to do everything a physical key currently does such as locking or unlocking the doors or the trunk and allowing the engine to get started. It also offers customers the possibility to receive more than one digital key on their app, allowing them to access different vehicles in different locations according to their changing mobility needs.

Volvo digital key

Figure 1: Volvo vehicles with digital car keys will be commercially available by 2017. (Source: Volvo)

Using the app, people can potentially book and pay for a rental car anywhere in the world and have the digital car key delivered to their smartphone. On arrival, the customer can simply locate the rental vehicle via GPS, unlock it and drive away, avoiding frustrating waiting lines at car rentals in airports or train stations. At the same time, this technique makes car sharing more simple and convenient. Users can send their digital car key to other people via their mobile phones, enabling them to use their car.

The carmaker intends to pilot the technology as early as spring 2016 through the Sunfleet car sharing company at the airport of Gothenburg, Sweden. By 2017, commercially available vehicles will be equipped with the digital car key, albeit only in "limited numbers," as Volvo announced.

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