BMW says car keys may be replaced by smartphone app

"Honestly, how many people really need it?"

Related: We obsessively covered the Frankfurt Motor Show — our complete coverage

FRANKFURT, Germany — BMW is reviewing the necessity of car keys, Ian Robertson, the company's board member responsible for sales, told Reuters.

The fact that customers now all carry a smartphone and the availability of a BMW app, which allows customers to unlock their vehicle, has made old-fashioned keys less relevant.

"Honestly, how many people really need it?" Robertson said in an interview at the Frankfurt car show, given that customers no longer had to put the key in the ignition to make the car start.

"They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?," Robertson said, adding that the company was looking at getting rid of keys altogether.

"We are looking at whether it is feasible, and whether we can do it. Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future, remains to be seen," Robertson said.

This, of course, is reminiscent of Tesla's plans for the Model 3, in which owners can open and operate the car either with a key card from their wallet or with a smartphone app.

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