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The Advancement Of Automotive Keys Background Image

The Advance­ment Of Auto­mo­tive Keys

Posted 06/01/21 by Elspeth Myers

In 1949 Chrysler imple­ment­ed the first keyed igni­tion and, with it, of course, the first auto­mo­tive key.

In 1965 Ford employed dou­ble-sided keys, which allowed the dri­ver to insert the key into the igni­tion in either ori­en­ta­tion. Then in 1986, Chevro­let applied the use of cod­ed resis­tors on their keys. The use of a cod­ed resis­tor rev­o­lu­tionised the game sig­nif­i­cant­ly; by the ear­ly 1990s, all GM vehi­cles had employed this type of key.

Car keys on the ground
Car keys on the ground

The Tibbe Key

Can you believe that the 1987 Cadil­lac Allante car key inspired the key­less entry fobs we have today? This was the ear­li­est use of a fac­to­ry-installed remote entry sys­tem, allow­ing the dri­ver to lock and unlock car doors.

The 90s brought in a new wave of keys; the Tibbe key. This unique key was defined by its oval-shaped end, first appear­ing in the 1989 ver­sion of the Merkur Scor­pio. This type of key was then adopt­ed by Jaguar and even­tu­al­ly Ford. The Tibbe key was still in cir­cu­la­tion in 2013, used on the Ford Tran­sit Con­nect, but has since been discontinued. 

We take laser cut keys for grant­ed now, but they’re a rel­a­tive­ly new devel­op­ment, first used in 1990 on the Lexus LS400. As well as laser cut keys, how many of us use a switch­blade style key? Mer­cedes were the first brand to intro­duce this key style, with it still in use on many models.

Car key remote on a desk
Car key remote on a desk

Key­less Fobs

Let’s get to the excit­ing sec­tion; the evo­lu­tion of the prox­im­i­ty key! 1993 intro­duced the exper­i­men­tal tech­nol­o­gy that would pave the way for the key­less tech­nol­o­gy that we use today. The Chevro­let Corvette would tri­al the use of prox­im­i­ty key tech­nol­o­gy, albeit the key only allowed access to the car, with key­less start com­ing lat­er down the line. It would take till 2003 for the first ful­ly func­tion­ing prox­im­i­ty key, intro­duced by Mercedes.

Car key being used to access car
Car key being used to access car

Mea­sures Car Man­u­fac­tur­ers Are Tak­ing To Keep Your Car Safe

Devel­op­ments have been made to over­come the rise in vehi­cle thefts that have occurred since key­less technology.

Since the rise of key­less tech­nol­o­gy, the indus­try has seen a surge in thefts coined as relay attacks’. Relay car theft, or relay attack’, is when thieves use the car’s key­less entry sys­tem against itself by trick­ing the vehi­cle into think­ing the wire­less remote is next to it.

We have a blog post on Relay attacks; use this link to read more: Relay Attacks: The Biggest Threat In Car Theft?

Car man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Ford and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) have imple­ment­ed tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments that improve the safe­ty of key­less tech­nol­o­gy. Recent­ly Ford announced that all-new Focus and Fies­ta mod­els would come with a key fob with a sleep mode” set­ting, allow­ing the dri­ver to leave their keys in the house with no wor­ries. This mode works by essen­tial­ly turn­ing the key fob to sleep when it’s not in motion.

What does this mean for the dri­ver? The fob will not respond to the thieves’ attempts to boost the sig­nal to access the car. Full func­tion­al­i­ty is acti­vat­ed when the key is in motion, such as when the dri­ver picks up the fob and walks to their car.

Car Security System
Car Secu­ri­ty System

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