No.2182
07/17/2019

Global Virtual Car Key Market: Key Research Findings 2019

Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) has conducted a survey on the global virtual car key market and has found out the market trends, the trends of automakers and related companies, and the future perspectives.


Transition and Forecast of Global Virtual Car Key Market Size
Transition and Forecast of Global Virtual Car Key Market Size

Market Overview

The global number of cars that have virtual car keys embedded in 2018 has been estimated as 20,690 thousand.

In the U.S., infotainment systems equipped with virtual car keys have been installed on many of new car models, as an emergency call system became obligatory. As of 2019, almost all the passenger cars in the U.S. are available to use virtual car keys. In addition, more makers, primarily high-end German automakers, are eager to standardly equip with infotainment systems into new car models to be sold for global market. Therefore, following the U.S. market, infotainment systems are progressively accepted in the European market, as well.

Noteworthy Topics

AI smart speakers have been widely accepted mainly in the U.S. and European markets, and have started connecting with infotainment systems. “AndroidAuto,” an in-vehicle infotainment service provided by U.S. Google, enables using GoogleAssistant, an AI assistant, which can connect with GoogleHome, Google’s AI smart speaker, as well as with Android smartphones. As a result, a driver of the vehicle is able to remote control the air conditioner at home while driving, or is able to start the engine of the car from within the living room at home, successfully associating a connected car with a smart house. The similar attempts have been developed by Apple and Amazon from U.S. Particularly, Amazon has gotten together with Ford from U.S. and VOLVO from Sweden to start operating AmazonKey, where a trunk of a car can be used as a home delivery locker. 

Future Outlook

With regard to the global virtual car key market, the most advanced market is the U.S. market, which is projected to be followed by the European market, primarily that of EU countries. In EU, too, the automatic emergency call system, eCall, has become a mandatory to be installed in all new cars. VOLKSWAGEN from Germany, which had lagged behind in this category, though being the world’s largest automaker, has finally announced its “next-generation” infotainment system as well as virtual car keys for being available from the major new models to be released in Fall of 2019 and beyond, showing its intention of enhancement in the category for the future.


The Chinese market, the world’s largest automobile market, too, has been regarded as a matter of time for its introduction of connected car services through infotainment. However, it is highly possible for the Chinese market to build its own unique ecosystem mostly among the local IT companies. On the other hand, it is also the most advanced market in sharing services, so that it is a promising market not only for introducing virtual car keys but also in-vehicle smart locks.


It is considered that the Japanese market has low demand for connected car services via infotainment systems because of the following reasons: 1) Already widely accepted navigation systems; 2) Small land with relatively short travelling distance; and 3) Enough number of dealer networks and thorough road services. On the other hand, it is highly possible for connected car services to be used as one of the solutions of many automobiles-related social problems, such as motor vehicle thefts, malicious tailgating, and deadly accidents by the elderly. As a part of such a trend, virtual car keys are expected to be needed and accepted.

Research Outline

1.Research Period: February to June, 2019
2.Research Object: Automakers, and those companies related with virtual car keys, smart locks, smart speakers
3.Research Methogology: Face-to-face interviews by the expert researchers and literature research

The Global Market of Virtual Car Keys and In-Vehicle Smart Locks

A virtual car key is the system that has the functions of an automobile to unlock, to lock, to start the engines, to remotely unlock, and to remote-control an engine starter an automobile, through the use of smartphones with the specific application installed, or communication protocols such as NFC. Virtual car keys in this research indicate those genuine products from manufacturers which are already embedded in an infotainment system, and also those that can use connected car services.
An in-vehicle smart lock is a system that enables a smartphone to work as an automobile key by connecting with an OBD II terminal. In addition to those genuine products from manufacturers there are in-vehicle smart locks from third-party companies. Many of those are used by service providers of car sharing and of operation management.

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