Monday, 14 March 2016

Volvo has the key to end your car starting woes

IT WAS one of those mornings when I wished I’d stayed in bed. I’d been given the key to a freshly restored Ford Capri – and managed to break it clean in half before I’d even started it!

My face recoiled in horror as a clearly very brittle slither of steel snapped in my hand. Happily, the car had a spare key so it wasn’t a case of stopping play, and the people who owned this 44-year-old car were very nice about it to the red-faced and hugely apologetic journalist. I’m sure I can’t be the only person it’s happened to but it’s definitely up there in my list of all time automotive fails.

If only it’d been sometime next year and a brand new Volvo instead. That’s when, if the Swedish carmaker gets its way, you won’t need to bother with keys at all.

The manufacturer that gave you seatbelts, The Saint’s wheels of choice and slightly mad 1990s estate cars now reckons all you need to start a car up is an app on a smartphone. Simply bring it with you, strap yourself in and your brand new V90 will faithfully fire up, ready to whisk you to your destination.

Interested? It gets better. Volvo says you can share the app with your wife, husband, delinquent teenage son, or your dog, so they can drive your car down to the garden centre without needing to physically pick a set of keys up off you. I can see it working a treat where I work, where I’m forever having to traipse to the other end of a rather long office simply to pick a set of keys up. All I’d need is the app and permission from the car’s owner.

It even works between different cars so that you won’t need a set of keys if you go on holiday and rent something, although whether you’d need to insist on borrowing only Volvos isn’t yet clear. It all sounds a bit Tomorrow’s World but I like the idea enormously – it’s a bit like wondering why we signed for payments in a world before chip and pin or how society ever functioned without the barcode.

All we need now is for Volvo to make the system as foolproof and boringly safe as its cars are. It will still make keys for nostalgic types who remembered starting up cars back in 2016 by twisting a quaint piece of metal, but the real challenge is to make it impossible for someone who steals your phone to also to steal your car. It’ll also need to make it a doddle to use, and not just for people who understand how LinkedIn works. Everyone knows how a key works – so to replace it successfully Volvo’s app will have to be unbelievably easy to master.

Oh, and Volvo must ensure that in no way can David Simister find a way of accidentally breaking it. Nail that last part and the future of motoring is secure.

Originally published in the 24 February issue of The Champion

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post. It was such an entertaining read! I love to read something with a bit of humour. It is good that Volvo are doing that. It's a really clever idea. I can't believe that people hadn't thought of it sooner. It's amazing what technology can do these days, isn't it? Now if they could just find a way to replace my door keys!