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BMW: Keys to be replaced by smartphone apps

BMW  is considering using a smartphone app-based system to replace the traditional key. (Image courtesy of BMW USA)

The car key is set to follow in the path of the window crank, carburetor, and mother-in-law seat on the road to extinction. At least, that’s the word from BMW board member Ian Robertson, who told Reuters that the marque is considering using a smartphone app-based system to replace the traditional key.

As smartphones have achieved ubiquity in most markets across the globe, the need for a physical key, has diminished. In many instances, the “key” is already nothing more than a fob that relays a signal to the car, and never leaves a driver’s pocket.

Robertson stopped short of declaring an immediate end to the key as it’s known today, but did reveal that BMW is investigating whether it would be truly missed.


“Honestly, how many people really need it,” he said. “They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?”

Several carmakers already feature apps, like the BMW Connected App, that enable owners to unlock their vehicle remotely. Tesla, which frequently flouts convention in favor of high-tech solutions, introduced the Model 3 with no key at all, just a phone app that uses bluetooth to enable you to unlock and start your car.

The notion of a keyless society brings with it myriad potential advantages and disadvantages. While security concerns will always be present, potential car sharing services could reap the benefits of not needing a kiosk to dispense and collect a physical key, when one could be electronically sent to a customer’s phone.

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