Volvo Offers Food Delivery to Its Cars

Douglas A. McIntyre

Volvo may nearly be out of business, but it has come up with one of the most unique features available from the world’s car companies. It can deliver food to its vehicles.

According to the company:

In a ground-breaking technology move for the automotive industry, Volvo Cars demonstrates the world’s first delivery of food to the car — a new form of ‘roam delivery’ services. The service, which will be showcased at the Mobile World Congress, will allow consumers to have their shopping delivered straight to their car, no matter where they are.

Volvo’s new digital keys technology will allow consumers to choose their car as a delivery option when ordering goods online. Via a smartphone or tablet, the owner will be informed when a delivery requires dropping off or picking up from the car.

Having accepted the delivery, a digital key will be activated which tracks when the car is opened and then locked again. Once the delivery is completed, the digital key ceases to exist. The system is based on the functionality of the telematics app Volvo On Call, which also makes it possible to remotely heat or cool the car and see its position or fuel level via the mobile phone.

Volvo did not present any research about the level of interest in the service, particularly for people who shop online for food.

The service does offer a new vista for the troubled auto manufacturer to distinguish itself. However, if the initial tests prove successful, it will open the door for much larger car companies to do the same. Manufacturers like General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), which sell nearly 10 million cars worldwide, could create networks that would allow for huge numbers of deliveries to cars per year. And the system likely will not end with food, although with a partner like McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD), this business could be huge. If there is money to be made in the delivery-to-car sector, the systems could expand to thousands of goods and services.

Volvo may succeed as the seed of the creation of a service that could compete with Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and other large retailers that have online operations. Volvo is too small to be a significant success in the new business. However, if it is joined by the largest car manufacturers, that will change.