The China automotive smart keys market is expected to register a CAGR of over 18%, during the forecast period (2020 - 2025).
- Smart Keys were a critical feature in luxury vehicles but now they are even becoming the part of entry-level cars. With the change in vehicle owner expectations for their vehicles to perform tasks that would involve a minor physical or mental effort on their part, the remote “key” has become a mainstay of the vehicle model design. The driver is not required to insert a metal key into the tumbler.
- Smart Key requires pressing a button on a wireless transmitter to perform this arduous chore of locking or unlocking the vehicle doors. In addition, push-button ignition switches have also become common, eliminating the requirement to rotate the mechanical key in an ignition switch cylinder.
- A critical driver of the market in smart key systems is the convenience that the smart key provides. The keys need not be kept in the hand to enjoy the features, and people enjoy the fact that the keys can be kept in the pocket or bag without requiring to reach around before getting into the vehicle
Key Market Trends
Security Risks is Hindering the Market Growth
The vehicles equipped with smart keys were found out to be highly vulnerable to be hacked, allowing thieves to steal a car easily.
As the digital key has the requirement of a carrier such as a smartphone, theft can easily happen, and through that, it can even control the wireless transmission between the carrier and car.
The research from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found that the smart key fobs, especially present in luxury vehicles, are highly susceptible to hacking. The feature allows a driver to unlock doors and start a vehicle without touching the fob. Using radio signals, the fob and vehicle send encrypted signals to each other over short distances, which were vulnerable. The keyless system is always on and always working, and communicating. The car sends a short signal via the low-frequency channel for verifying that the key and the car are capable of communicating or not.
With wired and wireless connections between their antennas, the team was able to unlock and start ten different vehicles even when the distance was eight meters away from the key fob holder. Since the keyless entry systems use the same basic design, the hack can work on millions of vehicles. The car fails to get any signals or alarms, since the signal received is not false.
OEMs will provide more advance feature in Future
The OEMs have been on a binge of offering advanced features relative to the unlocking/locking of doors, control of windows, moon roofs, mirrors, seat adjustment, radio pre-sets, and remote engine starting via key fobs that are carried by the driver. A transponder in the smart key features a small chip inside the key head that sends a signal to the signal amplifier and in turn to the ECU, which then disengages the immobilizer system and allows the engine to start. The proximity fob needs to be in the range of the system in order for the system to allow the engine to start via a push-button ignition switch. The convenience that these systems provide, helps to significantly drive the growth of the market. Some of the OEMs in the USA were introduced their models with the smart key. For instance,
Tesla Model 3 Key Fob which is shaped as a miniature version car provides an easy and convenient way to access the car. It can automatically lock and unlock itself when the Key Fob is in the range of three feet.
Similarly, in 2020 Lincoln Aviator, the car can be accessed with the smartphone application, along with that it can be also be used to open and close windows and the trunk, hit the panic button, and chirp the alarm.
Apart from the above trend major OEMs in the country have ambitious future plan for electric mobility such as in March 2020, GM announced its future plan for electric mobility, in which USD 20 billion will be invested in coming yearsalong with that it will launch 20 new electric models by 2023 in which some of the models are Cadillac “Lyriq” EV,electric versions of GMC’s, and the Cruise Origin, which is electric, self-driving vehicle jointly developed by GM and Honda.
The China automotive smart keys market is moderately fragmented due to the presence of many local and global players such as Denso Corporation, Continental AG, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, ALPHA Corporation amongst others. Whereas major automakers are launching their own smartphone application for providing the best features to their customers and to stay ahead in the market. For instance,
- In 2020, NXP Semiconductors has launched its new digital key solution by which smartphones, key fobs, smartwatches and fitness trackers can able to unlock and start the cars. The new system works on the near field communications (NFC) technology
- In 2019, Hyundai showcased a digital key app for its 2020 Sonata sedan at the New York International Auto Show. Hyundai’s Digital Key is a downloadable smartphone app that can replace a traditional car key by using NFC. An NFC antenna located in the driver’s door handle can control the doors while a second antenna is in the wireless charging pad in the center console for starting the engine.
- In 2019, Car Keys Express has added two new remote keys to its portfolio of aftermarket products. The new keys have integrated remotes and retractable blades.
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