ROCKLEIGH, New Jersey — Volvo on Friday said it plans to become the world's first automaker to offer cars without keys beginning in 2017.
"Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them," Volvo said, hedging its bets a bit.
An application for smartphones will replace the physical key with a digital key.
The setup "will offer Volvo customers far more flexibility, enabling them to benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars," the automaker said in a statement.
The growing trend toward car sharing, as exemplified by GM's Maven and other programs, is a key impetus behind digital car keys.
Volvo owners will be able to send their digital key to other people via their mobile phones, giving other people access to the car.
"Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers' expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way," said Henrik Green, vice president of product strategy and vehicle line management at Volvo Cars.
Edmunds says: Traditional car keys may go the way of tailfins and the rumble seat, if Volvo Cars has any say in the matter.