Downloading “Your car keys”

For those who have purchased or rode in a car released in the past few years, you may have noticed an iconic routine missing when starting up the car. The familiar fumbling in your pockets, clinking of metal, and the twist of your hand to wake up your automobile’s engine. It may all soon be a thing of the past.

With the rapid growth of technology in the past couple of decades, it has found its way into almost every industry. For the automotive industry it has mostly meant fancy displays, comfortable seat adjustments, gps navigation, more controls, and electric motors. However, technology is now even threatening your car keys. The majority of car brands have introduced keys known as keyfobs that involve a push start instead of twisting a key, but even now those pose extinction.

If you’re keeping up to date in the auto tech news, recent news articles covering this topic can be found on (link) and (link). Both of the articles use information gathered from an interview of Ian Robertson who works for BMW, a prominent brand looking to remove physical car keys.

Instead of a key to get into your car, car brands such as BMW and Tesla are replacing them with an app that is downloaded onto your smartphone. The Tesla model 3 which is now in production will take advantage of this app and also includes a credit card like object to unlock your car in the case that you don’t have your phone. This card, and app are the only way to gain access of your model 3, no physical key is provided.

Tesla card to unlock:


Reading of these new technologies brings to the front of my mind questions on how practical this concept will be, and if this will even take off and have the whole industry on board.

This may be because this is still such a new concept to consider, but I am yet to be convinced that turning over to digital is the way to go for accessing and starting your car.  To me it seems like yet another way for humans to become dependent on their phones. Also, it gives me a headache to think of the security issues that could occur in the event that your phone is hacked and along with it access to your car. The card to unlock Tesla model 3 is a neat idea for backup however it doesn’t provide much of an improvement from the already existing wireless key fobs that let you access your car as long as its in range (in your pocket). The only benefit I can foresee is the flat design taking up less space in your pocket. However unlike the wireless key fob, you have to take the Tesla card out of your pocket, and it just seems like an easier thing to lose.

What do you think, are digital keys superior to physical in your opinion? What are some benefits and drawbacks that you think digital keys would bring to the auto industry?

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