Tesla Model 3 has no key, so don’t forget your phone

Electric car company Tesla has shown a willingness to break from automotive legacy, and it moves even further away with the Model 3, where owners will rely on their smartphones to access and start the car. Unlike most current cars, and even Tesla’s own Model S and Model X, Model 3 owners won’t need to carry a key fob in their pockets.

No keys or fobs for the Model 3, as owners will access their cars with their smartphones.


Many cars these days offer keyless entry and start, but require the driver to have a key fob at hand, a pocket-sized device that transmits a unique radio signal. That signal tells the car to unlock its doors and ignition. For the Model 3, Tesla engineered the car to accept a digital key transmitted through Bluetooth from an owner’s smartphone. The car uses the Bluetooth LE standard, which stands for Low Energy, and is supported by most major smartphones.

As a back-up, or for valet access, each Model 3 will come with a couple of NFC cards, which can also unlock and start-up the car. The cards will unlock the door with a tap on the B pillar, and start up the car with another tap between the front seats.

Tesla has not said if there is a mechanical means of entering a car with a completely drained battery. However, that has not been an issue with the Model S or Model X. Given Bluetooth LE’s energy requirements and the large size of the Model 3’s battery pack, it would be unlikely for the car to have no electricity available.

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