Car News

Drivers increasingly sick of car keys…

Almost half of all car owners in Germany are sick of carrying around a set of car keys and would switch to a smartphone-based app, according to research.

Research conducted on behalf of Bosch has revealed that 76 percent of German car owners have found their keys “a pain at one time or another”. Around 45 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know what to do with their keys when, say, at a swimming pool.

Almost half of all car owners in Germany are sick of carrying around a set of car keys and would switch to a smartphone-based app, according to research.

And, interestingly, and slightly off-topic, only six percent of those surveyed said they view key fobs with wireless remote controls and large automaker symbols as “status symbols”. Around 40 percent of survey respondents said they would switch from a physical key to a smartphone-based app.

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Forty-six percent of men, 32 percent of women, and every second SUV driver “were excited by the prospect of having a digital car-locking app on their smartphones”. People who drive between 15,000 and 20,000km/year (49 percent) or more than 20,000km/year (51 percent) “are especially open to such a system,” according to Bosch. “Even more than one in two users of contemporary keyless entry systems (54 percent) could imagine replacing them with an app”.

While the overwhelming majority of those surveyed said their wireless remote control keys and keyless entry systems were secure, around one in five respondents said they’d either had their vehicle stolen or knew someone who had. Key fobs used for keyless entry systems send either LF or UHF signals and, according to vehicle security experts these systems can be intercepted and breached within seconds via a relay station attack.

To that end, Bosch has developed its own smartphone-based app (the survey was, thus, convenient) which it claims can’t be hacked because it uses Bluetooth as the transmission technology. Sensors installed in the car recognise the owner’s smartphone as securely as a fingerprint and open the vehicle only for them. Digital key management links the app and the vehicle via the cloud. And if the phone is stolen, the key can be disabled simply and quickly, according to Bosch.

“The advantages of a digital car key are obvious – it is convenient, secure, and available any time and anywhere”, says Harald Kröger, president of the Bosch Automotive Electronics division.

“If you lock and unlock your car with a smartphone app, you are using a future-proof technology and benefiting not only from considerably enhanced security, but also greater ease of operation,” added Kröger.

And Bosch isn’t the only company developing a smartphone app instead of keys, Hyundai recently announced it was developing a smartphone-based app that could be used instead of physical keys.

Question: Would you give up your car keys for a smartphone app?


Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.