With smartphones now able to summon taxis, food, and potential future spouses/one-night stands, it’s seemingly only a matter of time before they’re used as our primary car keys, replacing the proximity fob.
Tesla is already there to a degree, having rolled out the ability to use its app as an effective proximity key across its line-up. Tesla owners are also able to use a more traditional key fob or key card, although it seems most owners treat this as a safety net, using their phones as a primary key.
It’s not quite all sunshine and rainbows with Tesla’s app technology, though. The app suffered a brief outage late last week, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk noting that it was caused by “server issues”.
The outage resulted in reports of hundreds of Tesla owners being unable to unlock their cars for a brief period, meaning they were effectively stranded while the company mended the problem. Reuters claims that 500 Teslas were impacted by the outage, with another 60 hit later in the day.
“I’m stuck an hour away from home because I normally use my phone to start car” noted one owner. “THOUSANDS of Tesla owners are locked out of their vehicles because Tesla servers went down over two hours ago. I’m one of them. They said we’d be helping the environment by owning an electric vehicle, but ‘walking’ isn’t what I had in mind”, said another.
“[The app is] coming back online now. Looks like we may have accidentally increased verbosity of network traffic,” Musk tweeted. “Apologies, we will take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Among those to rub their hands with glee at the outage was Ford North America’s outspoken product communications manager Mike Levine. Levine has been critical of Tesla in the past, and took the opportunity to poke some fun at the rival manufacturer.
Ford’s new fully electric F-150 Lightning is one of several EVs that Joe Biden has recently driven as the US president gears up for more legislation around electric vehicles. One Twitter user mocked the Lightning for its ‘SecuriCode’ numbered keypad on the door; an antiquated but proven keyless entry system Ford has installed in its cars since it debuted on the 1980 Thunderbird.
One Twitter user made fun of the system, writing “look at this innovative $F technology from the 90’s on the F-150 Lightning. I mean, how is @elonmusk supposed to compete with a door button access panel?” Levine replied with glee over the weekend. “With SecuriCode, you are never locked out of your vehicle. Know what I mean?”
Levine later Tweeted a photo of him using a SecuriCode system, presumably on his own personal vehicle, while grabbing a coffee.
The story of SecuriCode is an interesting one. Ford is the only brand that still offers a vin-code-based entry system in its cars today. Several brands, like Nissan, released their own versions of the keyless system, only to eventually phase them out over time. Up until recently, SecuriCode was available as an optional extra on all Ford models sold in the US.