Volvo has launched a new application to help drivers stay in touch with their cars remotely.
Described as the first step in a new connectivity strategy, the free app released Tuesday allows drivers to monitor and check their vehicle from an iPhone or Android handset, in a manner similar to apps also available from US brands Ford and Chevrolet.
However, the European automaker says that the new software, available for new Volvo models from model year 2012 onwards, is "the most comprehensive and broadly available application in Europe when it comes to controlling and monitoring the car from anywhere at anytime."
It allows drivers to easily find their cars, by displaying its position on a map and remotely activating the lights and horn if necessary, before unlocking the doors.
When separated from their vehicles, drivers can also view the vehicle dashboard to read information such as fuel level, range to empty, and average speed, as well as viewing more detailed information such as technical data and logs of recent trips made.
If the car alarm is triggered, a notification is automatically sent to the mobile app, while other safety features such as roadside assistance and automatic collision notification are included on vehicles as part of Volvo's first-generation On Call system.
The app is available for use in Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the UK, Russia, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Volvo's CEO Stefan Jacoby says that the Swedish brand has "ambitious plans" in the connectivity field, although the automaker is hardly the only one vying for yet more space in drivers' pockets.
As cellular communications and satellite navigation devices combine with more powerful in-car computers, most major automakers are now looking for ways to safely enhance the driver experience, even when the driver isn't behind the wheel.
Earlier this year, Chevrolet's parent brand General Motors revealed that its remote access app, powered by telematics system OnStar, has over 56,000 users, who have completed some 1.3 million interactions with their vehicles.
Download (iPhone): http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/volvo-on-call/id439635293?mt=8
Download (Android): https://market.android.com/details?id=se.volvo.vcc