Keyless Ignition: Government Planning Standardization

Keyless Ignition systems, once consider a premium item found in luxury cars, are now available to first-time buyers looking at budget cars such as Hyundai Elantras.  The system’s inclusion in almost every automotive segment as well as its connection to Toyota’s recent unintended acceleration troubles, have pushed the government to propose keyless ignition standardization.

Specifically, automakers would have to follow the Keyless Ignition Systems guideline released in January by the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) International.  This is the first time the SAE has released a standard on the technology.  Among the list of recommendations in the guideline is the ability for drivers to shut off the engine with a “long” 0.5 to 2 second push of the ignition button or with two-to-three short pushes.

It seems simple enough, but SAE hopes their recommendations make the technology safer and less confusing for drivers.

Most automakers plan to adopt or already comply with the SAE standard except for Toyota.  The automaker wants to wait on a ruling from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The Toyota and Lexus system requires drivers to hold down the button for three seconds.

“We don’t want to redesign our systems twice,” Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.

The government’s plan for standardization, however, can be traced back to 2009 when the automaker face heavy scrutiny following involving a Lexus ES 350.  According to the NHTSA, the crash was partly due to a push-button ignition “with no emergency instantaneous shut-off device.”

Shortly after, the government launched an intensive investigation for causes of unintended acceleration and called on automakers to implement preventative technology such as brake override systems.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required), NHTSA, SAE

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