The Advancement Of Automotive Keys
Posted 06/01/21 by Elspeth McIntyre
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.
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.
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.
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. With full functionality activated when the key is in motion, such as when the driver picks up the fob and walking to their car.
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