The Future of Vehicle Access Control

By Andrea Sandru, Content Manager, Tapkey

Sharing is caring, and that’s definitely true in the field of mobility. Not surprising, given that the future of the global shared mobility market looks promising, with mega-opportunities in ride, car and bike sharing. The market is expected to reach over $138 billion by 2023 with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 15.2% from 2018 to 2023 (Research and Markets).

Constant change is not new to the automotive industry. There are several emerging trends that are impacting the dynamics of the industry, including the rise of micromobility services and the emergence of specialised suppliers to integrate technology and services. Increased penetration of smartphones and other smart devices is boosting the market growth as well.

Smartphone Apps Impacting Mobility

Consumers are increasingly using smartphone apps for a wide array of transportation use cases including vehicle routing, parking availability and real-time transit arrival predictions. These apps are spawning new businesses, services and mobility models. Indeed, the increased availability and capability of global positioning systems and wireless and cloud technologies coupled with the growth of data sharing is triggering a rise in smartphone app use to meet mobility needs. So why not use the smartphone for unlocking vehicles as well? Since the market is growing, it’s no surprise that the supply of mobility apps is growing as well. This includes B2C sharing apps that sell the use of shared transportation vehicles from a business to an individual (e.g. Zipcar) and P2P sharing apps that enable private owners of vehicles to share peer-to-peer (e.g. Spinlister). Fleet management, mobility trackers, and real-time information apps are also central to increased smartphone use (US Department of Transportation).

But what do they all have in common? No matter if its free-floating, peer-to-peer or fleet management: all mobility apps want to provide an all-in-one solution for their customers that includes GPS tracking, reservation of vehicles and invoicing. There are several software providers on the market (Wunder Mobility, Omoove and Remoto) that offer all relevant features. Sharing providers can even white label the software to kickstart their business. However, there is still a big gap when it comes to accessing vehicles.

Making the Move to Smartphone Keys

Keeping control of keys is, for obvious reasons, quite important. In the past, the sharing of vehicles required a physical hand-off of keys, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Yet as the sector has evolved, ride sharing and commercial fleet services have a strong need for a technologically advanced key, as taking and returning keys on a constant basis can become chaotic very quickly. Just think of the following situations: An employee gets sick, but still has the keys to a car. What if the person using a shared vehicle loses the key? Organising a replacement key is not just time, but also cost-intensive. With mobile access control, companies will find solutions to many of their common problems. Digital keys can give companies the ability to manage and revoke access to cars anytime, anywhere. Hence, mobile access control can make these processes significantly easier and more intuitive.

Mobile access control also offers other benefits, such as data insight, which can ultimately give companies a smarter solution to secure access to their vehicles. This can mean only allowing vehicle access to “approved” people, restricting usage time, and manage access for different drivers at different locations. With mobile access control, companies can integrate digital key technology into their fleet management app through APIs and SDKs. Hence, there’s a need for practicable hardware solutions that can tackle the problem, or ‘keys’. This solution must meet certain requirements, e.g. being OEM independent and simple to integrate into existing software.

Available Car Access Solutions on the Market

One company on the market that provides access to the car is Invers. Once integrated, the telematics device submits real-time information like GPS location, fuel level, and the state of the doors. That’s why it’s even possible to find out if the car is locked or not. In addition, WITTE Automotive is offering a car sharing box—a plug-and-play solution for keyless car access. Fleet management companies can use the box independent of car brands (nearly 80% of all available cars in Europe are compatible). The physical car key is stored in the box inside the vehicle, a non-invasive solution that works with all vehicles. To get more details about the fleet, the telematics data can be collected with an additional dongle.

Big telematics device manufacturers like Ruptela, Geotab or Navtelecom are providing such GPS hardware for vehicle and asset tracking. The features range from the monitoring of fuel level and mileage to GPS location tracking. Technology companies like Tapkey are developing software to enable seamless integration solutions, operating as an open platform for mobile access. Tapkey also offers development kits to seamlessly integrate smartphone-based access into existing apps and products. Hence, mobile access can also be integrated into on-board control units or telematics boxes. Integrating mobile access is a good possibility for leading telematics companies to upgrade their top notch products and to stay competitive. Once integrated, it makes a vehicle shareable. Besides tracking GPS position or fuel consumption, a fleet manager can grant access to a driver via smartphone and check if the vehicle doors are closed or open. The driver in turn can simply unlock the car with a smartphone using Bluetooth or NFC.

One Step Further With Mobile Access

In a future where efficiency and simplicity will rule, mobile access control is a logical solution to granting access to vehicles. But much more, Tapkey’s platform allows integrators to join a thriving ecosystem of connected devices—no matter which form factor or manufacturer. The access technology opens garages and unlocks vehicles, doors and furniture. Hence, shared mobility providers can also enable access to third-party services like car cleaning that complement their own solution. Or how about trunk delivery by logistics firms without customers being on-site? By embracing modern technologies, forward-thinking companies can stay one step ahead of the competition.


There are many different ways to that mobility is becoming connected – don’t miss out on these UM Daily articles that cover the transition:

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About the author: Andrea Sandru has been the Content Manager at Tapkey since May 2018. Sharing interesting insights on all aspects of mobile access control—that’s basically what she does all day. Her range of responsibilities includes developing website content, writing blog posts and help center articles and dispatching the monthly newsletter. Furthermore, she’s responsible for the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.