The GM Ignition Recall May Doom The Car Key Once And For All

Honestly, I can't even remember the last newer-ish car I drove that had an actual key instead of a fob and a push-button start. And in light of the General Motors ignition switch recall, the end of car keys may come sooner than we expected.

Bloomberg reports that GM may make the push-button start a standard feature on all of its vehicles soon, a move that has the potential to end the potential mechanical headaches that car keys and twist ignitions bring. It could prompt other automakers to do the same.

While many of us enjoy the feeling of twisting a key to start the engine — especially if it's an actual, metal key and not some kind of fob — an electric button is much simpler, more reliable and potentially more user-friendly.

Presumably, you also eliminate the risk of a driver accidentally moving the key into the "off" position while the car is running with his or her knee, the problem documented in the Cobalt and other cars. Then again, as Jason pointed out a while back, proximity keys, fobs and start buttons have their downsides too.

To be fair, this isn't entirely GM's doing. Push-button starts began as a luxury feature in Mercedes-Benzes in the 1990s, but like most luxury features on high-end cars the technology eventually trickled down to more plebeian cars. This recall, which shows one of the weaknesses of the key and ignition switch, may just serve to hasten that technology's demise.

The question is, will anyone miss the car key? I know plenty of buyers who see the push-button start as an exciting, premium and almost race car-like feature. The car key may not have too many defenders beyond old-school enthusiasts.

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