The Evolution of the Car Key

January 17th, 2022 by

VW keys and remote start

And Where to Test Drive Late Model VW Vehicles at Your Local Volkswagen Dealer

Think about the first cell phone you ever owned.

Was it the Nokia 3310? Y’know, the one with Snake on it. Or maybe you had the Motorola RAZR, which was easily the most popular of all the clam style phones. Regardless of where you started, you must agree that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since those days when phones had no internet and could barely take a decent picture.

Everything these days is sleeker, faster, and more user-friendly than it was twenty years ago. This can be said for computers, TVs, how we play home video, and even small things like car keys.

The car key has come a long way over the decades. To give you a little history lesson, here is how the car key has evolved over the years. It all started about eighty years ago…

The 1940s

The traditional metal key was introduced in the late 1940s. At that point in time, most cars required two different keys; one for the ignition and one for the door locks. The metal key design would remain firmly in place for some decades, gradually being refined and slimmed down.

1950s – 1970s

Volkswagen designed thirteen different key profiles – also known as blanks – for their offering of vehicles. Each profile was uniquely designed and had a different two letter code that corresponded with its specific vehicle lock. The two-letter code would also appear on the vehicle; however, it was usually placed somewhere where most drivers wouldn’t notice it.

The 1990s

A big step happened in the 1990s towards what we now know as the modern car key with the introduction of the remote keyless entry fob. This is the key that most of us use in the current day. It works by sending out a coded radio signal to your vehicle giving it the command to lock/unlock doors in addition to being used to turn on the ignition. It wouldn’t be long after the fob was introduced that a couple more features would appear in the form of keyless trunk entry and alarm system activation/deactivation.

To further innovate the fob, a switchblade version was introduced in Germany that caught mass appeal. Drivers loved the clever design and distinct popping motion of the key. Both the GTI and the most recent iteration of the VW Beetle used the switchblade fob.

The Millennium

The fob key would see its next advancement in the early 2000s by evolving into the smart key. This key featured no traditional metal key, but rather, a distinct signal sent from the key to the car’s ignition that started the car. However, many variations of the smart key featured a back-up metal key hidden on the inside where the battery is housed.

Current Day

The modern car key has evolved so much over the years that now we’re at the point where we don’t technically need them anymore. In fact, the all-electric Volkswagen ID. 4 utilizes keyless entry technology so that drivers can access their vehicles using the Volkswagen Car-Net app on their smartphones. The app can also control the vehicle’s climate and provide an at-a-glance look at current battery health.

The evolution of the cell phone and the car key finally advanced far enough where they essentially became one in the same. Accessing your VW has never been easier or more convenient.

Ready to Step into the Future? Contact Your Local Volkswagen Dealer at VW Clear Lake

Now that you know the evolution of the car key, it’s time for you to see firsthand the evolution of some of our cars. We have plenty of models of Volkswagen for sale in the compact, sedan, and SUV categories, including our World Car of the Year Award-winner – the 2022 Volkswagen ID.4. VW Clear Lake is the most trusted new car dealership in the Houston area.

If you’re not in the market for a new car right now, we also have plenty of used cars and certified pre-owned vehicles that have undergone a 100+ point inspection and are ready for test driving. Don’t forget to check out our specials for other great deals on VW vehicles and services.

The VW Clear Lake dealership is conveniently located at 15100 Gulf Fwy in Houston. Additionally, if you are a current VW owner in need of maintenance, our VW service center is located at our dealership. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment.