People are always looking for the next useful app. The next application that compacts yet another thing into your phone, so that you don’t have to carry it around. Remote starters have been around for years and of course, that’s useful for starting your car letting it warm up or cool down before you have to get in. Push to start engines that let you start your car with a Bluetooth key fob – there’s no actual key on those.
Offering a smartphone app that lets drivers monitor their car and perform simple but important actions like lock/unlock, start the engine, honk the horn, etc. There could be GPS tracking, meaning you can always find your car, even if you forgot where you parked. These apps could allow one phone to contain access to multiple cars. These apps could allow families to easily share access to the cars or limit/control access as well. It’s not surprising that a couple of the big auto companies you hear about often, already have started transitioning to a key-less option for their drivers.
Big names like Tesla, BMW, and GM etc. have already started using this type of technology since last summer. As long as your Tesla vehicle is delivered and has the app access enabled, Tesla’s app will allow the following options:
1. Keyless driving Unlock and drive your Tesla vehicle without your key.
2. Range status Check current range, charge status, and receive charging complete notifications.
3. Climate control Remotely vent your roof or turn on the climate control system.
4. GPS location Never forget where you parked again.
Last summer, Jonny Evans at Computer world wrote an article about 7 Apple Watch apps that allowed you to control your car in the same ways. The article talks about the Mercedes-Benz MB Companion, which though doesn’t lock and unlock your car, but provides door-to-door navigation instructions for driving, or to help you find your parked car. Monitoring capabilities on your car’s fuel level, odometer reading, and maintenance code provision are also on the list of this app’s capabilities.
The Porsche Car Connect though only compatible with some newer models of the Cayenne, Macan, Panamera, or 918 Spyder, will let you lock and unlock your car. It lets you fold your side mirrors, check tire, fuel and electric battery status as well. This app is now available to smartphones as well, not just on the Apple Watch.
Volvo, being the latest one to announce the news of their smartphone app. It contains the basic features as traditional keys do like the ones we just mentioned. With the Volvo app, the driver won’t even need to touch their smartphone to unlock the car. The wireless signal from their phone will unlock it automatically as the driver approaches the vehicle.
The transition to apps could transform the experience of not only owning cars, but sharing cars as well. You could send a friend a digital key designated for single use or only at given times. If anything, it could really change the rental car experience. Rental service providers would no longer need to worry about lost car keys and loss of profit because they need to get a new key made. The system could simply change into one where the rental key is assigned through the app to the person, and it would expire after the rental period finishes. Volvo, will be trial testing this new technology on their Sunfleet car-sharing service this coming spring at Gothenburg airport. The physical key will become obsolete, the only question is when.