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I think I need to buy a Volvo. Look at this genius app for your car! (“Volvo On Call”)

Now then, now then, stop all the clocks!

My most recent interaction with Volvo was with an advertisement a good few years ago. The ad opened to the external view of a Scandanavian house surrounded by some snow. A Volvo estate is parked outside. There’s the sound of a bed squeak that begins to continue. On screen, a prompt displays, “Volvo voted the world’s most beautiful estate car”. That text then fades away as the bed squeaking continues, before a final prompt appears, “Now all you need are some kids.”

Genius.

Utter. Genius. (Watch the old advert here).

So that coloured my judgement positively toward Volvo, especially since I now have 2 young children it’s even more relevant. Many of you know me as a firm Range Rover man. However today I must tell you that I’m looking else where. Seriously. Here’s why….

Volvo has leaped everyone. You can now control your 2012 Volvo with a mobile app!

You can locate your Volvo with the app, just like you do your lost iPhone. You can lock/unlock it remotely from the app. You can — get this — you can read your flipping dashboard stats directly from the app! Check your remaining fuel, your odometer and so on. You can even start your heated seats from the app.

COME ON!

I’ve seen similar applications — mostly third party — from other providers, typically in the States. I had no idea that it was possible to do this in ‘production’. The app functionality is available on any 2012 Volvo car that features the optional Volvo OnCall system. Historically this system has enabled you to summon assistance remotely through a GSM connection in the car (think: OnStar).

This latest upgrade takes things to a new level. It’s not like you need the facility. It’s just very, very smart.

The functionality is driven through a mix of GSM/SMS/GPRS. I think it’s a little like the Amazon Kindle data arrangement — indeed this is a useful demonstration of machine-2-machine data services being used in the consumer world. Here are the details on the upgrade:

Volvo On Call is available as an optional extra on all models in the Volvo MY12 range and you can use it in conjunction with the free to download app (we are the only manufacturer to offer this feature across the full range). Volvo On Call is priced at £530 on the small cars (C30 and C70 – as these require the addition of the GSM telephone upgrade). On the rest of the range, the Volvo On Call option is priced at £320. All come with a two-year subscription initially, after which time users can subscribe for a further year for £150, or for two years at £225.

I can’t believe I missed this. The announcement of this update was actually published by Volvo almost exactly a year ago as a press release.

Here it is, from June 7 2011:

From now on, there is no need to leave your Volvo behind when you park it.
The latest connectivity news from Volvo Car Corporation is a mobile application that makes sure that the driver can stay in touch with the parked car via an iPhone or Android smart phone.
This means that Volvo Cars introduces the most comprehensive and broadly available application in Europe when it comes to controlling and monitoring the car from anywhere at anytime.

“We design cars around people’s needs and lifestyle. Creating an intuitive and ergonomically optimised driver’s environment is part of our aim to offer a feeling of relaxed control. It is only logical that you should feel in command of your vehicle, including after you have parked it,” says Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO at Volvo Car Corporation.

The mobile application is another step in Volvo Cars’ quest to provide Volvo owners with a superior range of connectivity possibilities – both in the car and when it’s parked.

The mobile application is an extension of Volvo On Call, which originally focused on direct access to a call centre in the event of an accident or other emergency.

Now, the system has been reinvented. Owners of all new Volvo models (from model year 2012) with Volvo On Call can download the new application that opens up a range of connectivity possibilities via an iPhone or Android smart phone.

The mobile app is free and downloaded via the iPhone and Android application stores. The app is designed to offer the owner an intuitive, easy-to-use relationship with the car from a distance. Naturally, Volvo Cars has taken appropriate steps to protect the user’s privacy and the security of the system.

“This is much more than a gadget. The mobile application is the first step in our connectivity strategy. We have started to build a bridge to the future – and the mobile app will be extended with a range of possibilities,” says Stefan Jacoby.

Mobile app with a wide range of features

The mobile application includes a number of features:
• Car locator. The location of the car is shown on a map. There is also a digital compass that points the driver in the right direction. If necessary, the car horn and indicators can be activated to facilitate the search.
• Remote door lock. The status of all doors and windows is displayed – and the driver can lock and unlock the car with a push on the touch screen.
• Vehicle dashboard. This feature gives the driver access to a wide range of information: fuel level, remaining range to empty tank, average fuel consumption, average speed, odometer reading and trip meter reading.
• Car check. The mobile app performs a “health” check of the car, displaying information about bulbs, break fluid level, coolant level, engine oil level and engine oil pressure.
• Driving journal. Detailed data of each trip during the last 40 days can be downloaded and stored. There is also a possibility to extract the data as an Excel file – a perfect feature for company car owners.
• Vehicle information. Basic car data such as model, registration number and VIN number are stored and can be displayed.
• Theft notification. If the car alarm is triggered, the driver is alerted via the mobile app.
• This new Volvo On Call generation still includes all the safety and security aspects that are part of the first generation.

More projects in the pipeline
Volvo Cars will introduce several new connectivity features in the near future.

“The new mobile application transforms Volvo On Call from an emergency system to a useful convenience feature. It will help us boost sales of the system – and we are convinced that our ambitious plans in this connectivity field will help us attract more and more new customers in the future,” says Stefan Jacoby.

Now then, does your car do this? I’ve no doubt other manufacturers are doing similar (or have plans to do this). I just stumbled onto this functionality when my brother mentioned it the other day.

“From a mobile app????” I asked him.

“Yeah, it’s pretty sweet,” he replied. I thought he’d read something wrong until I visited the Volvo site.

It’s not something I’ve seen offered by the latest Range Rover. And when I was in the Volvo garage last week, nobody mentioned this to me. It’s a key selling point as far as I’m concerned 😉

Good work Volvo.

What do you think? Has anyone got this already? Is anyone using it? What’s it like?

If you’d like to know more, check out the online user manual.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

9 replies on “I think I need to buy a Volvo. Look at this genius app for your car! (“Volvo On Call”)”

Hey Ewan, think about this for your teenage drivers! Now you can follow where they go, whenever they go, and even check past road trips. For your forgetful teens, you can help monitor their petrol levels and even make sure the car is locked when parking in dodgy areas of town. I think I like this feature better for my soon-to-be drivers than for me 🙂

Giff

I do think this is excellent, the fact that I am already a Volvo owner has not clouded my judgment. Love the idea and the thought this could grow over time so buy now and see what your car can do in the future.

Yes, absolutely I think it could bring more long tail value as well with additional features being added in the future. Maybe we can one day flash our own chip and perform upgrades on the systems.

You might even one day have the car schedule maintenance, oil changes, or allow you to all without picking up the phone or stopping by some garage or dealer.

I have a S60R, love it and have owned 2 other 740 estates brilliant cars. Reliable, virtually maintenance free and inexpensive on insurance. The S60R provides the above and the performance of 300hp so a lot of fun to drive, still gets 27mpg-30mpg as well.

I wonder if Volvo are considering delivering an API that developers could code against to help unlock these sorts of features. They’d be absolutely brilliant. Imagine getting a push notification to say that your car needs the following maintenance and that it’s already secured confirmed quotes from the following garages nearby…

Just looked up the S60R. That looks like a beast of a car!

That would be really great, of course security here is paramount but with that sorted would be nice. Having quotes from approved service points, wherever your location has been that week i.e the office or holiday cabin etc.

The potential is really unlimited, weather based changes like ‘time for winter tyre change’ see following garage on Wed for service and after service payment has been deducted based on approved payment method in the app. You could imagine with a API things could get really wild and we could have tons of features and functions. I do hope this brings Volvo a bit more business so they can continue the tradition of building great cars in Europe.

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