SOME people have nightmares about dropping their car keys down a lift shaft or a street drain, but chances are the traditional car key is soon to become as antiquated as the crank handle.

Today’s keys are mainly electronic devices that simply relay a signal to the car, unlocking its doors and allowing a push button to set the engine in motion.

So why cart it around with you when the same work can be done by a smartphone, or a Fitbit-like bracelet?

BMW sales director Ian Robertson, speaking at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, questioned whether keys would really be missed.

“Honestly, how many people really need it?” he asked.

“They never take it out of their pocket, so why carry it around?”

From left: A BMW smart key, Tesla’s smartphone app key and Jaguar’s bracelet key.

With keyless entry and start/stop now mainstream, the need for a physical key is becoming obsolete.

BMW is reviewing the possibility of transferring the key function via an app on their smartphones, something already available on some Teslas, and Jaguar has a waterproof bracelet available for active folk worried about losing their keys while climbing Mt Everest. Or jogging in the local park.

“We are looking at whether it is feasible,” Robertson said.

“Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future, remains to be seen.”

Such a move might stop the nightmares, or breed a new range of worrisome possibilities.

And what about phrases like ‘the key to success’? The ‘app to success’ just doesn’t quite cut it.

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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.