How Much the Car Key Has Evolved Over the Years

February 21st, 2022 by

car key in car

Car Key Technology Explained by Your Local Volkswagen Dealer

Think about the phone, TV, and computer that you had 10 years ago. Chances are, they were heavier and clunkier than the products you’re using now. Additionally, your current electronic items probably have so many features you don’t even use them all.

However, every piece of technology has a humble beginning. That holds true for computers, for phones, and even your car keys. Depending on how long you’ve been driving, you may have noticed that your very first car key was quite a bit different from the one that you’re using now.

Just like automobiles, car keys have come quite a long way in their evolution. To give you a little history lesson, let’s break down the different iterations of the car key over the years. Our story begins roughly 80 years ago…

The 1940s

The traditional metal car key was originally introduced in the 1940s. At this point in time in automobile history, cars require two keys – one for the doors and one for the ignition. This design of key would remain firmly in place for the next few decades. It would see slight modifications throughout the years as designers were able to make the key slimmer and lighter.

1950s – 1970s

Starting in the 1950s, Volkswagen started to forge their own path when it came to car keys. They designed 13 different key profiles for their offering of vehicles, which were referred to as blanks. Each key profile had a specific two-letter code that corresponded with the same code that would appear inconspicuously on a VW vehicle. Matching the codes meant you were matching the right key to the correct lock.

The 1990s

The 1990s were a big decade in terms of technological advancement. Cell phones were becoming more widely adopted and there was a big step in car key technology. The remote keyless entry fob – key fob, for short – sent out a coded radio signal to the vehicle which would issue the command to lock/unlock the doors or turn on the ignition. Not long after that, the key fob was further improved by adding additional commands such as opening the trunk and activating/deactivating the alarm system.

The key fob was further innovated when a switchblade version was introduced in Germany. Drivers fell in love with the clever design as well as the distinct pop-and-flip motion that the key made when the key button was pressed. For those of you who are VW historians, you may remember the switchblade fob from the VW Beetle as well as the GTI.

The Millennium

The same way that cell phones would eventually become smart phones, key fobs evolved into smart keys. The big differentiator between the smart key and the prior iteration, was that there was no traditional metal key portion that needed to be used. All major functions of the car were controlled by signals from the key. However, the smart key still utilized the traditional metal portion as a backup just in case it ran out of battery; this metal portion was housed on the inside.

Current Day

What happens when a piece of technology keeps evolving? It turns into something else entirely. That appears to be the case with the car key these days as it’s no longer actually needed. With the VW Car-Net app you can start the engine remotely, lock/unlock your vehicle, and many other functions. This means that your car key is no longer the primary way to access your vehicle.

Contact Your Local Volkswagen Dealer to Step into a Brand-New VW Vehicle

The only thing that has evolved more than the car key are the cars themselves. The best way to get familiar with them is by visiting a Volkswagen dealership near you. No need to Google the phrase “new car dealership near me.” You can visit us straightaway right here at the VW SouthTowne dealership. We carry a wide selection of late-model VW sedans, compacts, and SUVs that are on the lot and ready to test drive.

Not yet in the market for a new car? How about a used car instead?

VW SouthTowne carries a wide array of used vehicles along with certified pre-owned vehicles that have undergone a 100+ point inspection. Additionally, don’t forget to check out our specials for more great deals on VW products and services.

VW SouthTowne is conveniently located at 11000 South 290 West in South Jordan. If you are a current VW owner in need of routine maintenance or service, contact our VW service center which is located at our dealership.