Automotive manufacturers see fobs as a new way to enhance the customer experience and differentiate their products from the competition. Here are our picks for 10 noteworthy auto key designs—for 2006.
1.Bentley Flying Spur and Continental GT
At the top of our list is Bentley's exquisitely designed key fob for the Continental GT and Flying Spur. The renowned Bentley flying wing logo is prominently situated on the back of the fob, with the Bentley signature "B" in black and white at the center of the wing, making the fob immediately identifiable. Just wave this glitzy fob at the bouncer and you're sure to get into any exclusive club or hot spot.
Behold Mercedes-Benz's innovative new fob, whose design is both stylish and functional. In addition to performing the standard lock, unlock, trunk-open and panic duties, the key's radio transmitter allows you to start the car without fumbling through your pocket or purse. Chrome surrounds the sides of the fob and a large Mercedes-Benz logo at the center reveals your discriminating taste in automobiles. According to Brent Sullivan, general sales manager of Mercedes-Benz Chicago.
The valet key is inserted into the end of the squarish key fob. The sides of the fob are trimmed in sparkling chrome while the back displays "Jaguar" and the world-famous leaping cat logo. In addition to lock, unlock, panic and a trunk opener, the XK fob also features a button to illuminate the car's headlights as you approach it.
4.Land Rover Range Rover Sport and LR3
Land Rover's Range Rover is famous for its ability to endure punishment, and the manufacturer's key fobs are a formidable match. Land Rover's Range Rover Sport and LR3 fobs feature a metal switchblade key housed inside heavy-duty plastic, which allows the fob to withstand a 30-foot drop onto concrete.
Audi is a trendsetter when it comes to key fob designs, developing the second-ever switchblade key design. With the push of a small chrome button, the spring-loaded key pops out of its plastic holder. The redesigned Audi fob is more angular in design and integrates a panic button into its side, along with sleek chrome trim. Audi created the slick fob to prevent metal keys from ripping pocket liners.
6.BMW 3, 5, 6 and 7 Series
Once only available on the top-of-the-line 7 Series, BMW's new key fob is now standard on the 3, 5 and 6 Series as well, and is being phased in the next generation of BMW's other series. This new fob doesn't have a key at all; instead, the fob itself is inserted into a slot on the dashboard to activate the push-button start.
Though nothing like a Bentley or a Mercedes-Benz fob, the latest Lexus fob is unique in its own right. Made of silver-colored plastic, the current Lexus fob was sculpted with unique curves to rest naturally in your palm. Lock and unlock buttons are implanted into the plastic while the trunk-open and panic buttons sit on a convex surface.
Abandoning the traditional metal key, Volvo's latest key design relies on a slot for the ignition. This allowed designers the freedom to create a thin rectangular key fob with unique LED lights that greatly enhance driver safety, long a hallmark of Volvo vehicles.
Infiniti is known for integrating new technologies into its products, and its key is no different. Like some of the more advanced designs on our list, Infiniti offers keyless access. The thin, oval shape of the Infiniti key is unobtrusive when stored in a pocket or purse. Three aluminum buttons are placed vertically around the black plastic oval that also features the Infiniti logo above the lock button. The key's shape is streamlined, sleek and futuristic, just like an Infiniti.
Cadillac is introducing a totally redesigned fob unique to the luxury brand in 2007. The sleek new fob has a distinctive semicircular shape with the signature Cadillac wreath-and-crest insignia on the reverse side. Metallic accents help to differentiate the buttons on the fob and add a sense of modernity to the overall design.