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Chip Shortage Forces Toyota to Temporarily Issue Metal Keys for New Cars in Japan

New Toyota vehicle customers will now receive one smart key and one simple, metal key.

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Generic car key
Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor (Getty Images)

Car keys have officially become the latest victim of the ongoing chip shortage. Reuters reports that Toyota has announced plans to give new car buyers a mechanical key instead of a smart key.

“As the shortage of semiconductors continues, this is a provisional measure aimed at delivering cars to customers as quickly as possible,” said Toyota in a statement.


That said, it’s not as drastic a change as it initially sounds. Toyota isn’t doing this with every new car it sells. At least for now, it only affects new Toyota sales in Japan. And Japanese Toyota buyers won’t only be given mechanical keys. They’ll still get one smart key, with the mechanical one replacing the second key that comes with the car.

Toyota also says it’s only temporary, and when more smart keys become available, customers will get their second smart key. Unfortunately for Japanese Toyota buyers, there’s no estimate on when that will be.


“As for the second smart key, we plan to hand it over as soon as it is ready,” Toyota said.

This news comes just days after news broke that Toyota had told suppliers that, due to the chip shortage, it would no longer be able to meet its production goals for the year. That news didn’t come as the biggest surprise considering how serious the shortage is. Toyota had slowly been cutting monthly production without officially changing its plans to build 9.7 million vehicles this year.

And while the added cost of giving customers a mechanical key in addition to two smart keys means it’s unlikely that will voluntarily adopt a permanent three-key policy, recent news about problems with smart keys suggests that may actually be a good idea.

For example, even though there is a metal key included in most smart keys, customers who get locked out of their Polestar 2 may now know about it. And then, of course, there’s Tesla. When It’s Always Sunny star Glenn Howerton’s smart key malfunctioned, his Model X got stuck in a parking garage for multiple days.