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A normal a part of the dealership check drive expertise entails the salesperson grabbing the important thing to the automotive in query out of a lockbox, then accompanying the shopper on the drive. A brand new patent submitting suggests Common Motors could also be in search of a solution to give prospects entry to the automotive with out requiring a salesman to dig by a field of keys.

GM seems to be engaged on a patent that might permit prospects to have a brief digital key granted to them with a purpose to acquire entry to a automobile they need to check drive.

The system would work like this: buyer applies for the important thing, the seller verifies the client’s curiosity and id, seller approves the check drive and screens it. If the shopper doesn’t need to purchase the automotive, the seller can revoke the digital key authentication, and it will probably additionally do the identical to a previous key holder if the automobile is used and somebody apart from the primary title holder buys it.


It’s unclear what occurs if the automotive is new and the shopper is the primary purchaser – do they get a digital key to make use of whereas they personal the automotive or a bodily key fob like they might now? Or each? (A digital key may very well be helpful to somebody who loses or forgets a key fob – like these key pads on some Ford/Lincoln autos that permit entry to their homeowners.)

The system would make on-line automotive shopping for simpler. Think about when you may construct and spec the automotive you needed on-line after which use a digital key to check drive it – you’d decrease interplay with salespeople at your native seller. You’d have the digital key, you’d present up, you’d check drive the automotive, after which when you determined to purchase it, you’d both be whisked into the finance workplace or you may fill out all of your documentation on-line whereas the automotive is prepped.

That doesn’t imply salespeople might be out of labor – a human would nonetheless have to shepherd the method and be able to reply questions – but it surely does imply that maybe a number of the extra annoying interactions between buyer and gross sales particular person may be reduce, thus making the method extra nice for all concerned.

There’s additionally a degree of safety concerned right here. Sellers may cease anybody who tried to show a check drive right into a automotive theft, or to maintain potential consumers from making the most of an prolonged take-home check drive and increasing it too lengthy.

To not point out the very fact it cuts down on the price of remaking misplaced keys, or the time wasted making an attempt to trace down a misplaced key whereas a buyer waits impatiently. Your creator as soon as labored within the service division of a dealership and, even with fingerprint IDs and passwords defending the important thing drawer, the system didn’t all the time work. Staff typically misplaced keys or forgot to return them, thus leaving salespeople to scramble to search out the important thing fob to a automotive buyer needed to drive. And the important thing field took up an honest chunk of ground area.

Okay, effective, there’ll nonetheless should be area for a key drawer even when this method works – a minimum of, so long as bodily key fobs nonetheless exist. However think about how a lot smoother the shopping for course of will work if the bodily keys keep in a single place till the sale is full.

There could also be service purposes, as effectively. A buyer leaving his or her automobile for work wouldn’t have to depart their keys when a brief digital key may very well be used. A digital key may be used to restrict and/or monitor unhealthy conduct by unscrupulous techs and repair advisors.

It’s only a patent, for now, but it surely’s an intriguing one.

Hat tip to our personal Bozi Tatarevic for as soon as once more digging up some very attention-grabbing docs.

[Images: General Motors, U.S. Patent Office]

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