iPhone and Apple Watch can now replace car keys in more models

Drivers may soon have another brand to consider when shopping for cars that support Apple’s Car Key feature. British sports car company Lotus has already been on our radar as a potential candidate. Now Mercedes-Benz support appears to be ready to launch.

Car Key is an Apple feature that lets you use your iPhone and Apple Watch as an alternative to key fobs or physical keys. When used with a compatible model, Car Key is capable of locking, unlocking, and starting vehicles. Passive entry, proximity, and remote access are also supported on some car models.

Car Keys are stored in the Wallet app on iPhone and Apple Watch and can be shared and unshared with other iPhone users. Recent iPhone models can even use Car Key if the iPhone loses its charge.

BMW has the most vehicles offered with Car Key support, with several model year 2021 and later cars supported. Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, and BYD round out the list of brands offering Car Key today.

Last month, Nicolás Alvarez on Twitter shared evidence that British sports car firm Lotus appears ready to roll out Car Key as well. Mercedes-Benz made the news official around the same time for its E-Class lineup:

With the Digital Vehicle Key, the E-Class can be started and locked simply by the driver carrying a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch. Key sharing is also possible: various digital channels can be used to invite family members or friends to use the E-Class. In doing so, the main user of the Mercedes me account can assign different rights, granting only access to the vehicle or also allowing it to be driven.

The vehicle can recognise several users at once, and the Digital Vehicle Key can be shared with up to 16 people. Sharing is possible via AirDrop®, iMessage® and other messaging services. The recipient can then add it to his/her own Apple Wallet.

The Digital Vehicle Key only requires a network connection for the initial one-time set-up and for sharing. After that, it works without mobile phone reception – so also in underground garages, for example. The system uses Bluetooth and ultra-wideband technology (UWB). This digital radio technology for close-range use is considered particularly secure.

As of today, Alvarez appears to have spotted the flip switching for Car Key to work on iPhone with supported Mercedes-Benz E-Class models. As @aaronp613 shares on Twitter, Alvarez has spotted code showing Mercedes-Benz support going live today.

With Lotus still pending, Mercedes-Benz makes the sixth car brand to adopt Car Key support. CarPlay, Apple’s other driving-focused iPhone feature, has existed for much longer and appears in almost all car brands today … although General Motors wants to buck that trend with its EV models.

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iPhone and Apple Watch can now replace car keys in more models

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