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AAA says smartphones may soon replace traditional car keys

March 12, 2013|By Jerry Hirsch
(Valentin Flauraud / Bloomberg )

Get ready to start your car with your phone.

The metal car key is fast disappearing, replaced by “smart” electronic car keys and fobs.  Now AAA says it expects smart keys to be transitional technology, soon to be replaced by people’s phones.

The auto club said Chevrolet and Nissan already have special mobile apps that can be used to monitor and control car functions.

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“And, Hyundai recently unveiled a more advanced concept that allows motorists to enter and start a vehicle using a specially configured smartphone that can then interface with the vehicle to provide additional functions and services. Some of this technology could be seen in vehicles as soon as 2015,” said John Nielsen, AAA director of automotive engineering and repair.

“Traditional car keys will likely become obsolete and be replaced by technologies offering even greater security and convenience,” said Nielsen. “Motorists will need to adapt with the technology to avoid the hassle and expense of smart key replacements."

AAA said it rescued 4 million drivers who locked themselves out of their cars last year, a number that has held steady for the last five years even as more autos come with electronic keys and fobs.

Smart keys were once available only in luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus but now are offered by most automakers either standard or as an option. Many contain a transponder that allows motorists to enter and start their vehicle key-free.

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