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What’s in a Name?

Proximity Keys & Roads and Streets

When I was very young, I wanted to jump on my bike to visit a friend.  I dutifully went to my father, and asked if it was okay for me to go.  He said, “yes, but make sure you ride on the street, not on the road”.

Without going into much detail, one didn’t generally ask my father to explain things that were confusing.

Ride on the street.  Not on the road.

Because I knew better, I road my bike on the sidewalk en route to my friend’s house. 

My father grew up in the country, where what I knew as a sidewalk, was to him, a street.  

Sidewalk = Street.  What’s this got to do with cars?

In order to differentiate their offerings, manufacturers will come up with unique names for features found on their vehicles that are often found on other vehicles as well.

Proximity Key

For example, a feature that’s found on many cars is what we call a proximity key.  When you have a key fob or pass card (or increasingly, an app on your smart phone) and approach your vehicle, you don’t have to physically unlock the vehicle to enter it.  The vehicle “senses” your presence and it unlocks.  You might have to press a button on the door handle or touch a sensor pad on the exterior to actually unlock the vehicle.  Once inside, you simply press a button to start and stop the car, instead of fumbling for a key.

Proximity key =  Keyless Go (Mercedes-Benz), Comfort Access (BMW), SmartKey (Toyota), Keyless Access (GM), Intelligent Access (Ford)

On these vehicles, the functionality is essentially the same. The vehicle is unlocked automatically without having to press a button on a key fob or turn a key in a cylinder located on the door.  Some vehicles take it further, by storing information such as seating position, radio station presets, outside mirror positions and air conditioning/heat settings.  As you approach the vehicle, these settings are changed to suit the driver’s preferences based on the app or the key fob that is carried by the driver.

We include a number of these feature descriptions in our Glossary. If you’re confused about a feature you see in a manufacturer’s brochure or a web site, be sure to check the Glossary.  We just might have an explanation for what it is and what it does.

The vehicle is unlocked as you approach it = Proximity key

Sidewalk = Street

Maybe my father was on to something.