How to Choose a digital key supplier for keyless entry to vehicles for a contactless rental?11 November 2020
With over 20 providers of digital keyless entry solutions, choosing the right one for your business needs careful consideration.
There are basically two types of digital keyless solutions, the first solution, classed by many as the older technology, stores one of the vehicles original keys within the keyless entry hardware. Its important when looking at these solutions you fully understand the implications of what would happen in the event a customer tries to remove the original key from the box, and as most of these solutions connect to the service socket of the vehicle what happens if its unplugged by accident.
Many will say that a customer would not know the key is stored within the hardware, but unfortunately criminals do operate, many car rental companies have had vehicle stolen, and these criminals are very knowledgeable. If a customer or knowledgeable criminal were to try and remove the key, what impact does it have on the vehicle.
Some solutions can directly activate the vehicles immobiliser whilst other solutions renter the vehicles ECU useless, so the vehicle cannot be started, some, actually damage the ECU to a point a very expensive replacement ECU has to be installed to make the vehicle operable again.
One of the most common failings of this solution is the hardware unit being unplugged by accident, even trained mechanics do not realise what the box is, normally the hardware responds in the same way as if someone tried to remove the key for the box. At a price of to 1500 Euro for a replacement ECU, this can become a costly mistake for the car rental companies.
This type of solution can normally be easily identified based on the size of the hardware box, because it has to be large enough to accommodate a tray or holding pod, which is unique to each keyfob, to hold one of the vehicles original keys. If you intend to work with this solution its always a good idea to make sure that there is sufficient room under the dashboard near the service socket in the car you intend to install with this hardware.
One final consideration at this level is the availability of the trays or holding pods that are used in the hardware. As each keyfob design needs a tray or holding pod specifically for its design, how long does it take for one to be available for a new keyfob design, some report it can take up to 3 months, and unacceptable timeframe.
The alternative, the most up to date solutions, try and replicate the technology, and sometimes improve on the scope of the technology, installed by many OEM’s such as BMW and Mercedes and require no key to be left in the vehicle, or inserted into the keyless hardware.
Latest hardware variants that are coming to the market, provide what is now being called a "true keyless entry systems" are making major advancements, such as the latest feature, where the vehicle is automatically unlocked as the correct mobile phone approaches the vehicle, and of course the vehicle is locked again as the phone becomes unreachable.
Another advantage of this type of solution is that the hardware interacts directly with the vehicles on board computer systems, commonly called the ECU, allowing it to use factory installed components such as the immobiliser to disable the vehicle, with no adverse effects on the expensive ECU.
Should someone decide to disable the unit, or its accidentally disconnected it sends a warning message back to the rental company, instantly, warning them that the unit has been disconnected and that the vehicle has been immobilised. As this type of unit does not take up the service port on the vehicle, a trained mechanic doing a diagnostics test, can plug in a diagnostics unit without any affects on the keyless hardware, so a warning message to the car rental company on this type of modern hardware would normally require close attention. The unit will keep transmitting its location for many hours, but once the unit is plugged back into the vehicle everything returns to normal without any requirement for service apps or trained staff, and no inconvenience to customers.
The true keyless entry solutions, those where there is no original keyfob anywhere in the vehicle, are becoming the most popular solution, especially as car rental operators become knowledgeable about the offerings in the marketplace. The cost keyless hardware is dropping drastically, as more and more budget solutions enter the market place which has in a real terms a short life span as its predicted within 5 years all vehicles will have this technology installed at point of manufacture.