The question "Where are my car keys?" hasn't left the building just yet, but is being shown to the door. Why? The arrival of push-button starters and smart cards in an increasing number of automobiles. Now that Nissan and Toyota have added button-starters to their high end Altima and Camry models, well, you know what that means: soon everyone's going to have them.

The tech-ification of starting your car is supposed to have at least two winners: car designers and consumers. Designers can put the starter buttons anywhere and even make them part of the car's appeal, like Jaguar has done on the new XF with a starter button that pulses like a heartbeat when you get in. Consumers will get a key that does more than just turn on the car, like adjust your seat and mirrors, turn on the heat, and treat you to free In-N-Out burgers. Ok, so not really on the In-N-Out thing. That's the next generation.

Losers -- if there really are any -- would be the folks who make keys and cylinders, and the consumers who lose their smart cards. Though key makers will lose some business, there are still plenty of cars around the world without push-button starters. For those who lose their smart cards, the locksmith and AAA won't help you any more: a $250 check to your dealer's parts department, plus labor, will be in order. In the new world, convenience, like almost everything else, will cost a bit more.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req'd]