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The Lynk & Co 01 will be like "a smartphone on wheels" (Photo: Arjen Bongard)

BERLIN -- Volvo Cars and its newly established sister brand Lynk & Co will have the ability to update software in their new cars over the air (OTA) next year, a senior Volvo executive said Thursday.

OTA will be a feature of the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) that Volvo and its Chinese parent Geely have been developing. The first cars to be built on this platform will be the Lynk & Co 01 compact SUV and a comparable Volvo model, the XC40. Both will be launched next year.

"Absolutely yes will we have that ability," said Mats Faegerhag in answer to a question whether the new cars will have OTA capability. "OTA is one of the key elements of the architecture," he added.

Faegerhag was speaking at the launch of the new Lynk & Co brand in Gothenburg and Berlin Wednesday and Thursday. The Swedish engineer heads the China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) center, which is the research and development unit Volvo and Geely share. CEVT developed the new architecture for the Link & Co 01.

Being able to update in-car software over the air is key to automakers' desire to mimic the consumer entertainment and IT industries in their ability to roll out new versions of software and apps quickly and easily.

The auto industry, citing unsuitable automotive architectures and safety concerns, has been slow in introducing OTA. To date, electric sports car maker Tesla is the only brand capable of updating and upgrading car software over the air. It regularly upgrades software functions in its Model S without requiring active intervention by the car's owner or by a workshop.

The Lynk & Co 01, which will go on sale in China in the final months of 2017, will rely heavily on state-of-the art connected features. Lynk & Co senior vice president Alain Visser, in his launch presentation in Berlin, even went so far as to describe the car as "a smartphone on the wheels."

-By Arjen Bongard