Volvo’s semi-goofy idea of turning your car into a smartphone loaded with handy apps is moving into the Seattle, Washington area to test things out. This makes sense, not just because there’s a lot of tech-savvy people in Seattle, but another, much more indigenous reason: Scandinavians. Scandinavians are the number one ethnic group in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle proper, there are so many ‘Sons, ‘Ssons, ‘Sens, and the occasional ‘Dottirs running around it can feel like you’re living in Tromsø in northern Norway.
Besides all the blonde hair and blue eyes, the other way you can see that Scandinavians are the number one ethnic group is cars. You see hundreds of Volvos and Saabs running around. So whether Volvo knows it or not, the Pacific Northwest is a perfect testing ground for any of their products.
After a successful run in San Francisco, Seattle developed into the second city in Volvo’s growing “digital ecosystem” program. This allows owners of 2015-and-a-half and newer Volvos to do things like order fuel and get their car washed wherever it’s parked in Seattle.
“First San Francisco, now Seattle, and soon many more Volvo owners will have access to concierge services via an app,” noted Anders Gustafsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Volvo Car USA. “This is another example of how we are using connected car technologies to make life less complicated for our customers.”
This digital ecosystem, which Volvo says is expanding (they aim to make the thing some sort of near-worldwide standard eventually) connects car owners with services via a smartphone app. That app, coupled with exclusive connected car platforms and strategic partnerships with companies like Filld and STRATIM, means filling the tank or having the car cleaned is just a tap away on your smartphone. As you would expect, you can call up these services at any time, day or night, say while owners are working, sleeping, or even traveling abroad.
Time Specific Features
Volvo says they are the only automaker with an ecosystem of these connected technologies. Yes, I agree “ecosystem” is a very pretentious term, but the idea of connecting a car with cloud storage, your cell phone, and integrating third party companies into one unified system is technically sweet. And Volvo isn’t messing around with this whole idea, oh no. They didn’t just kluge something together in a back room in a Kongsberg factory. No, Volvo went and dialed all this up at their Mountain View digital center in Silicon Valley. There they were able to accelerate development through recent technology acquisitions and take advantage of recent investments at the facility. This will prepare Volvo as they add new services as customer demands grow and change.
The other implication here is that when connected through your mobile device, Volvo’s digital ecosystem provides a time-specific location of your car. That means Volvo’s authorized partners can provide the requested services without interacting you directly.
I could see where this might come in very handy. You go into the office, call up the app, tap-tap-tap, and while you’re in that endless Friday meeting with the budget gargoyles from the 12th floor, your Volvo is getting all nice and shiny and clean for the weekend.
“The ecosystem that powers Volvo Concierge Services is unique to Volvo. It shows how the company is redefining the consumer experience around convenience by leveraging technological building blocks from the car to mobile,” explained Atif Rafiq, Chief Digital Officer, Volvo Cars. “We are at an exciting time when cars can be better integrated into daily life.”
In other words, yesterday San Francisco, today Seattle, tomorrow The World.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format.