Volvo said this month at the Los Angeles auto show that it was extending a concierge service available in Europe to the U.S.
While it's not a revolutionary concept, the digital key that allows the concierge to access Volvo's cars could lead to a host of new services. And it ties in with the company's autonomous-vehicle goal of giving time back to the driver.
Lex Kerssemakers, 56, Volvo's senior vice president of the Americas, spoke with News Editor Sharon Silke Carty of Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News about Volvo's focus on bringing fully autonomous vehicles to the market in the early 2020s.
Explain this concierge app. Is this part of something bigger or just a side valet service?
This is the ultimate level of connectivity, and the technology is an open end. The digital key can be used for car sharing. I'm stretching a little bit there, but once you have access through the digital key and you can start the car, the opportunities are endless.
Doesn't the digital key open up a lot of cybersecurity issues?
We keep stressing that there are always going to be cybersecurity issues, but we keep a huge firewall between all of the car's electronics and the safety systems. We have it in a very secure environment.
What is Volvo doing to get people ready to accept autonomous cars? It seems like that could be a big hurdle.
People have to get used to new systems. You really have to get used to the fact that you don't have to do anything once you start the car. Even with semiautonomous drive, you have to get used to it. That's why we tell people to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
We [are pushing ahead on autonomous drive] for two reasons. First, we have our Vision 2020 that no one will be seriously injured or killed in one of our cars. We will never reach that without autonomous drive. Eighty percent of mistakes in cars are still made by the human being. And fatalities are on the rise. We have to do something as a society; this cannot continue. We can say we don't like autonomous drive or don't trust it, but we need it.
The second thing is convenience. We want to give time back to drivers. In the future, you can do other things when autonomous drive takes over.
But the first thing we have to get away from is this polarized description of autonomy. It's not yes or no. It's a combination.