NFC in cars is one of the biggest trends in the automotive industry.  Just ask Warren Buffet

Chinese auto giant BYD Co. is backed, in part, by Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway organization and shipped four out of five cars in 2019 with support for NFC digital keys.  BYD expects to increase this figure to 95% of all BYD cars with NFC this year.

BYD has been the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer for the past three years running, in both consumer and commercial/industrial electric vehicles. Last year BYD sold more than 113,000 plug-in electric vehicles worldwide and currently has nearly 40,000 electric buses in service around the world.

Apple, CCC And 30 Out Of 39 Car Brands

Buffet aside, is it time to consider NFC functionality a standard feature on vehicles, like a radio or even a steering wheel?

Apple’s Car Key and the Car Connectivity Consortium’s (CCC) Digital Key 2.0 specification announcements are just the most recent NFC news about increasing NFC functionality in cars.  This proliferation of NFC in vehicles is a global trend involving many automotive brands around the world.

We surveyed 39 car brand’s websites to discover which brands used NFC technology in their vehicles.   Audi and Chevrolet to Toyota and Volvo and everything in between were reviewed.  It was found that approximately 30 out of 39 car brands publicized the fact that they use some sort of NFC technology or had published news stories about their plans to use NFC technology.

Find out More About NFC In Cars

Rumors Were True

The rumors were true.  Apple unveiled during the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 2020 keynote its “Car Key”.  Car Key, an  iOS 13 and iOS 14 feature, transforms an iPhone into a car key that can lock, unlock or start a car.

Using NFC technology, users hold their iPhone near the door handle to open the car door.  The car is started by putting the iPhone in an NFC reader or wireless charger.  iPhone 11 and higher allow users to keep the iPhone in their pocket and still unlock the doors or start the car.  A great feature of Car Key is that if an iPhone runs out of power Car Key enables the phone to still start the car using the battery reserve for an additional five hours.  Car Key holds the “car key” in the user’s Apple wallet.  BMW is the first carmaker to enable its customers to use an iPhone as a fully digital car key. A real BMW car key is stored securely on iPhone in Apple Wallet.

Car Connectivity Consortium Drives Forward

A strategic goal of NFC Forum liaison partner the CCC, according to its press release, is “to support mass adoption” with its recently released specification Digital Key release 2.0. The CCC Digital Key is a standardized ecosystem that enables mobile devices to store, authenticate, and share Digital Keys for vehicles in a secure, privacy-preserving way that works everywhere, even when the smartphone’s battery is low. The CCC is a cross-industry organization advancing global technologies for smartphone-to-car connectivity solutions.

Currently, the  Car Connectivity Consortium is finalizing standards for the next-generation of the technology.  CCC uses existing industry standards like NFC as much as possible to ensure high interoperability between vehicles and a wide range of industry devices.

The CCC has over 100 members including BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai Motor, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, PSA, Renault, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo, Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Panasonic, Qualcomm and Samsung.

Join The NFC Forum Automotive Special Interest Group

When Do We Stop Calling It A Trend?

NFC-enabled Apple iPhones can be used to start a car; most car brands offer or plan to offer some type of NFC functionality; the CCC released its digital key specification using NFC and Warren Buffet invested in one of the biggest automotive users of NFC in the world.

The automotive industry has embraced NFC.  NFC in cars is more than a trend.  It is a standard feature that offers functionality that consumers expect in their vehicles today and into the future.