It wasn’t long back when keyless locks started finding way into the hotel rooms. The travellers can bypass the front desk, head straight to their room and unlock using their Bluetooth enabled smartphone. There are multiple technology companies like Proxce that are innovating in this space. Now the Swedish car maker Volvo seems to have similar plans for the car rental industry. They have announced plans to become the first car manufacturer to offer cars without keys starting 2017. Instead of the key fobs, the cars will be unlocked by mobile phones using Bluetooth which can be shared with others as well. This could be a great news for the car rental industry.
While the self-drive car rental service is something fresh for the Indian market, it is a well-accepted concept all over the globe. The industry is driven not only by players like Avis and Hertz but also by the P2P lending industry. The car of an average owner sits around unused most of the times and people often rent out their cars to travellers to cover some costs of the car ownership. However, this requires the owner to meet the individual who is renting the car and hand over the keys. This could change with the keyless technology Volvo is bringing and allow the customers to benefit from new ways of sharing cars.
Henrik Green, a Volvo vice-president, said: “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. 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.”
If someone is travelling away for the weekend and wants to rent out his Volvo to a traveller arriving over the weekend, he can just leave the car in airport parking and share the digital keys with the traveller. This way, they owner won’t have to coordinate his plans with the individual renting the car and he won’t have to rely on any third party to take care of the keys in his absence. The traveller can use GPS to find the car and unlock using the digital key. In a way, the P2P lending industry stands to gain more with this new technology as compared to the car rental companies that are already using technologies to control the car locks using mobile app. Find below a short video by Volvo explaining the idea.
The idea of unlocking cars using mobile app isn’t exactly very new but most other manufacturers use it as a secondary access method. For owners who aren’t very comfortable with the idea of not having a key, Volvo will continue to offer physical keys. A pilot program will be conducted soon by Sunfleet, Volvo’s car rental company, at Gothenburg airport in Sweden. It will be interesting to see how the shared key technology can be used and we look forward to the same.
Also read: 5 car technologies for traveller of future