GM Recall Fallout - No More Car Keys, Push Button Standard
Several auto manufactures currently use keyless fobs that can automatically lock and unlock cars, enable starters, etc. These are a valid alternative to the simple car key, and offer many benefits over cut metal keys. Will GM's recall fiasco officially put an end to the traditional car key?
Keyed Ignitions are Old Technology
Way back in 1949, Chrysler first standardized keyed ignition switches across their lineup. At the time, it made a lot of sense. Those cars were pretty simple to break into back then. Just take a screwdriver and show it through the door lock. Having a keyed ignition simply made it more difficult to steal … unless you watch a lot of Hollywood movies and know how to hot wire a car.
Over time, keys evolved into the door key, valet key and then ignition key. GM, among others, made the keys in different shapes to help identify which key was which.
The ignition switch has also evolved. Nowadays, the switch is tied to a complex safety system that ties in the engine, airbags and security systems. If something goes wrong with the switch – like a heavy set of keys wearing down the mechanism – it could shut off those systems inadvertently. This is precisely how GM ended up in hot water.
Keyless Ignition Pros and Cons
Modern keyless ignition systems with push button starters began showing up in luxury cars in the late 1990's, and currently 72% of all vehicles have a keyless ignition option. All you need to use one of these systems is a keyless remote fob on your person – in your pocket or purse - and the car takes care of the rest. The vehicle detects the fob, unlocks car doors, and then enables the start button.
The benefits of these systems are numerous:
• Consumers don’t need to carry around keys...no more fumbling for keys with bags of groceries, etc
• Automakers don’t have to worry about ignition switches becoming faulty (a larger issue than you would think)
• Vehicles ignitions can't accidentally switch off when jolted
• Vehicles become a little harder to steal, at least assuming a thief doesn't have the vehicle owner's fob
The first benefit is really the most important, as consumer preference largely drives the market. According to an AutoPacific survey, consumers ranked keyless ignition technology the fifth most coveted upgrade for $100 or less.