Currently reading: Volvo to offer virtual keys from 2017
Volvo confirms that it will be the first manufacturer to offer cars with digital key technology

Volvo plans to introduce virtual-key technology to its car range in 2017, using mobile phone technology to replace the traditional car key.

The car key will be replaced with a Bluetooth-enabled digital virtual key that can be downloaded into a smartphone app. The app will be available on iOS, Android and Windows devices and replicates typical key functions such as locking, unlocking and boot release. It also allows drivers to start the car’s engine remotely.

Volvo will use its current security systems in which both the car and the key hold part of an encrypted key combination to protect the car from potential hackers. If the car's battery goes flat and cannot recognise the key, drivers must call for roadside assistance.

Multiple virtual keys can be stored on a single device, allowing easier access to a number of Volvos. The new technology could be used for car rental and car-sharing schemes, where a key can be downloaded with your rental agreement. It’s a move that Volvo claims will offer more flexibility to its customers.

Trials will be carried out this spring with car-sharing firm Sunfleet, which is based in Sweden. Physical keys will still be offered to the customers who want them.

Matthew Griffiths

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Mini2 19 February 2016

Not necessarily...

It may seem like tech for tech's sake to some... but this is only a similar thing to what Apple and Google have been doing with Apple Pay and the Android equivalent. I still leave the house with my wallet, but often I don't have to faff about getting it out of my pocket when I can pay with my phone (using fingerprint technology). It's a similar thing with keys - except this just takes the concept of 'keyless' entry onto a smartphone. It could take off... and it seems Volvo are properly thinking it through if their video demo is anything to go by. I wouldn't be surprised if this is mainstream within 5 years.
topsecret456987 21 February 2016

Any support for Nokia

Any support for Nokia classics - the ones that have batteries that last for 5-7 days? It will also need support for the type of phone my parents use - the ones with no features and very big buttons. In fact they own a Volvo so, this is not a joke.
TS7 19 February 2016

It does rather sound... technology for the sake of it.
AndyWolves 19 February 2016

Tech for tech's sake?

All sounds very futuristic, but what are the REAL benefits? To me, it sounds more open to abuse than the humble key.. Also, and believe it or not, sometimes I don't want to carry my phone around what then? And the other obvious flaw in this, is battery life of the phone, no power, no getting home.
owenmahamilton 19 February 2016

Presumably the car will have

Presumably the car will have in car phone charging so as long as there's enough battery left in the phone to unlock the doors then you should still be able to start the car once the phone is connected to the charger (I'm guessing wirelessly).