by Ken Goldberg
You’ve no doubt heard about keyless technology. Maybe you’ve even thought about it for your organisation or know an organisation which is implementing it. There is no doubt that a new reality exists where keyless technology has the potential to greatly facilitate vehicle sharing. So, what are some of the considerations for deciding if there’s a compelling case for adopting it?
Keyless technology allows the operation of a vehicle’s locking and ignition without the use of a conventional, physical key. Many car owners in the general public seem swept away with the convenience of not being tied to conventional key. In the fleet context, it often but not exclusively, involves the use of a smart phone which, when in close proximity to an authorised vehicle, acts as a digital key. For example, a password code is sent to the driver’s phone using an app. The vehicle recognises the code and this enables the vehicle’s locking and ignition mechanisms to be activated. Staff access cards and the like can be used instead of smart phones.
Ultimately, whether this type of technology presents a compelling case for adoption is going to vary from organisation to organisation. However, here are a few of the key considerations and questions that can inform and guide such a decision.
Some of the main benefits of keyless technology revolve around the existence and efficiency of vehicle sharing within an organisation. Therefore, it is relevant to any decision about the acquisition of keyless technology, whether an organisation has a pool of shared vehicles and, if so, to what extent and how efficiently the pool is managed. This is particularly so with respect to manual key administration for the vehicle pool.
Costs of manual key administration?
Has a costing been done of your organisation’s manual key administration? If not, this is a good place to start. Relevant considerations include the convenience which keyless technology can provide as well as answers to questions like:
Issues around vehicle security exist for both key operated and keyless fleets and each organisation will need to form its own view of the security risks posed by keyless technology based on its circumstances. There is no doubt that keyless technology has suffered from the stigma of hackers and a number of well publicised security risks. However, the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council concluded in their response to the ACCC’s 2016 market study of the new car retailing industry that the security concerns highlighted by the media often involved ‘complicated trial and error programming by computer experts with unrestricted access to their target vehicle’ and in their article entitled ‘Electronic Hacking: Hype or Reality’ they concluded that ‘while high tech theft methods steal the limelight, the reality is that more than 70 per cent of all theft is via the very low tech method of simply stealing the owner’s keys.’ Some of the vendors of the newer keyless technology certainly argue that the previous threats posed by hackers have been addressed. There are clearly some that argue that keyless technology provides a more secure system generally as it includes features like the ability for the digital key to be deactivated on-line and access to the vehicle blocked where a smartphone is lost or stolen.
There are, of course, numerous other factors to contemplate as part of any rumination on the adoption of keyless technology for fleets. However, this represents a starting place and one thing is abundantly clear - keyless technology will continue to evolve and form part of the fleet landscape for the foreseeable future so it is a topic worthy of reflection.
This article first appeared in IPWEA FLEET intouch e-news at https://www.ipwea.org/blogs/intouch/2019/06/16/keyless-technology-for-fleets-is-there-a-compellin