What OEMs need to know about digital key solutions

January 17th, 2024

Digital car keys are increasingly replacing physical car keys and fobs. This is a welcome development for the automotive industry and drivers alike. However, it also means that OEMs need to understand the many different actors and organizations in the digital key ecosystem, in order to make it work as seamlessly as customers expect. Here is what OEMs need to know about the digital key ecosystem, and how WirelessCar is working to facilitate the adoption of digital key solutions built on the Car Connectivity Consortium’s (CCC) digital key architecture.

Moving from proprietary solutions to an industry standard for digital key technology

While some proprietary digital key solutions have already made their way onto the market, there has long been a need for an automotive industry standard. The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) is an organization where both automakers and tech giants have come together to form a standard for digital key solutions. This in order to facilitate the widespread adoption of digital key technology, for OEMs and their customers.

Replacing physical car keys and fobs is in the interest of OEMs and drivers alike. But that requires utmost technical reliability from the digital key solution. The technology needs to be convenient, reliable, and cybersecure – without exception. The digital key (in the device wallet or OEM companion app, for example) must work seamlessly every time, providing the consumer with peace of mind.

As such, the industry needs to take considerable leaps towards the full implementation of digital keys and shorten the transition period up until that point. The standard specification from the Car Connectivity Consortium provides the best framework yet for the automotive industry.

a hand opening a car door

What are some of the greatest benefits of digital key solutions?

Digital key technology facilitates the digital, connected lives that more and more customers live. This provides significant business opportunities for OEMs', both toward private consumers and within the business-to-business (B2B) segment.

Digital car keys can easily be shared within a family, or among colleagues or friends. A digital vehicle key can be revoked, and restrictions can be put in place, such as trunk access or access to a car for a limited time period.

Renting and returning cars can be done completely digitally, without the need for rental shops, key fobs, or physical paperwork. And once the rental car is returned, the digital key may be shared with a cleaning company to prepare the vehicle for the next customer.

Regardless of whether the customer is a private consumer or a fleet manager, they will appreciate that the vehicle or fleet they are purchasing comes with the most secure digital key solution possible. For fleet owners, providing, maintaining and controlling your fleet becomes easier than ever.

It is also worth mentioning that OEMs can reduce both their costs and their environmental footprint by no longer manufacturing physical keys.

a happy woman driving a car

Overcoming the challenges of digital key solutions

A digital key may seem like a small feature in and of itself, but the technological ecosystem that comes with it involves many different organizations and actors. Mobile app development, embedded system development, backend system development, manufacturing operations, and of course security, are a few examples of the links in the value chain that need to work together.

Getting everybody to speak the same language, among your partners and within your own organization, will be a challenge even under the best of circumstances. There is also the question of ownership: who in the intricate ecosystem that truly owns the digital key solution and drives the overall development of it.

WirelessCar has been building, operating, and refining custom digital solutions for our customers for 20+ years. However, we also believe in the importance of adhering to industry standards, and in creating certain products that can be used by all OEMs. And while digital car keys are an inevitability, different automakers are at very different stages in terms of their implementation. That means that WirelessCar’s CCC compliant cloud-based Digital Key Management product will support OEMs on their journey to provide their customers with a differentiating digital key experience for quite some time.

a woman sitting on a motercycle

The shortest route to smooth and secure Digital Key Management

Using the Car Connectivity Consortium’s standard, we have developed a WirelessCar product – Digital Key Management – specifically to help OEMs realize their digital key ambitions faster.

Digital Key Management is compliant with all the requirements and security architecture (CCC 3.0) of the Connected Car Consortium. As with all WirelessCar products and services, it comes with built-in security, compliant with all the relevant cybersecurity standards for connected cars: UNR 155, ISO 27001, ISA-VDA, OWASP, and NIST 800-53.

Digital Key Management is also compatible with the Apple iOS and Android OS device wallets, and configurable for OEMs’ proprietary companion apps. We can thus provide OEMs with additional digital key and connected car data that can be displayed in their companion apps.

Adopting the CCC Digital Key specification, and products that comply with it, allows OEMs to steer more of their resources toward services that help differentiate them on the market. WirelessCar has a long history of building custom solutions for OEMs, alongside our cloud-based products. Regardless of which of our offerings work best for you, our solutions support the digital transformation of OEMs and their business models. Moreover, our products coupled with a SaaS delivery model reduces the time to benefit for our customers.

When it comes to the CCC Digital Key solution, we are not the app, not the wallet, and not the vehicle. However, we are the enabling cloud-based product between all these crucial areas and touchpoints. The OEM can deliver on its digital key promise to the customer, whether private or B2B, and the customer can get the seamless connected car experience they seek from automakers. The sooner an OEM will be able to meet its customers’ expectations in this area, the greater the likelihood that the customer will remain loyal to the OEM’s brand and use its other connected car services as well.

If you have any questions about our work with Digital Key Management, visit our product page, and feel free to contact me via email. You can read more about related topics – such as cybersecurity and how to enhance the EV user experience – here on our WirelessCar Insights blog.

Grant Janeshak
Product Manager