If you think the ultimate luxury in motoring is to never have to fill up your car, wash it or take it in for service, you're going to like the sound of Volvo's new smartphone-app-based services.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday, the Swedish automaker introduced a new suite of connected-car features dubbed Concierge Services that promise to pair its owners with local convenience services to simplify their automotive lives. An extension of Volvo's current On Call smartphone app, Concierge Services begins beta testing among 300 San-Francisco-area and owners soon. The initial pilot program is expected to last at least six months. The newly expanded package of services will allow owners to do things like summon fuel-filling and car-washing gnomes to their vehicle's location. Beta testers will also be able to arrange for their Volvo to be picked up and serviced and dropped off, whether at the same location or a different one.
When asked why this service is important to customers, Volvo North America CEO Lex Kerssemakers told me, "we have a mission in the company to make life less complicated for our customers."
The app service hinges upon a special single-use digital key that is released to the authorized service provider to allow them access to the vehicle. The keys are coded to be location and time specific to avoid mishaps. The technology was developed at Volvo's tech offices in Los Angeles and Mountain View.
If some of this concierge capability sounds familiar, perhaps that's because you've already heard about Filld, the remote fuel-filling service. Roadshow recently tried out the service using a Bentley test vehicle (the British ultra-premium automaker is also doing a trial run with Filld).
So far, the available services are quite limited, but in its press release, Volvo says it "invites other companies who are focused on delivering new services for the car to join the company's ecosystem." Kerssemakers mentioned valet services as also being on Volvo's wish-list of services, and it's likely that some of this technology could lend itself well to car-sharing in the future, too.
In other words, this could just be the start of a whole new economy.