Keyless technology for fleets - is there a compelling case?

By intouch * posted 17-06-2019 11:06


You’ve no doubt heard about keyless technology. Maybe you’ve even thought about it for your organisation or know an organisation that is implementing it. There is no doubt 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 its adoption?


Keyless technology allows the operation of a vehicle’s locking and ignition without the use of a conventional, physical key. Many car owners seem swept away with the convenience of not being tied to carrying a key. In the fleet context, it often but not exclusively involves use of a smart phone which, acts as a digital key in close proximity to the vehicle when a password code is sent to the driver’s phone via an app. The vehicle recognises the code, activating the locking and ignition mechanism. 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 will vary between organisations.

Here are three considerations and questions to inform and guide your decision.

  1. Are the vehicles shared?

The main benefits of keyless technology revolve around the existence and efficiency of vehicle sharing within an organisation. Therefore, the extent and efficiency of your vehicle sharing is relevant to any decision about the acquisition of keyless technology. This is particularly so with respect to manual key administration for the vehicle pool.

  1. How much is manual key administration costing you?

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 keyless technology can provide as well as considering these questions:

  • Has a map of manual key administration been created to determine what’s involved in the process?
  • What is the cost of personnel hours to administer the keys?
  • What is the cost of systems used to administer the keys, such as technology and any key box systems?
  • What is the cost of the keys?
  • What is the cost for replacement keys?
  • In organisations using vehicle share, what is the cost in the time taken by staff and other drivers for manual key exchange during collection and returns? (Note, this will be considerably increased in organisations with larger fleets and, for example, those housed at more than one site).

  1. Vehicle Security pros and cons?

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 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, ‘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 vendors of the newer keyless technology certainly argue that the previous threats posed by hackers have been addressed. They say keyless technology provides a more secure system generally as it includes features like the ability for the digital key to be deactivated online 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.