GM hasn’t given up ignition keys yet

Push-button start on the GMC Yukon has been optional.

General Motors’ troubled ignition switches seemed to spell doom for the traditional car key. In fact, CEO Mary Barra told a congressional committee investigating the 2014 ignition recalls that the automaker was considering making push-button start a standard feature on every vehicle.

That hasn’t happened. Keyless ignition has become more common within GM’s portfolio in the last four years, but it’s still not standard on many of the company’s least-expensive vehicles. It’s not even an option on any GM pickups, including the newly redesigned Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.

For the 2017 model year, keyless ignition was not offered on 19 percent of GM vehicles sold in the U.S., down from 26 percent in 2014, according to data from Edmunds. The data doesn’t identify the percentage of vehicles with standard keyless ignition or how often buyers chose the option when it wasn’t standard.

Push to start

Percentage of vehicles on which keyless ignition is standard or optional.
Model year GM Industry
2013 78% 67%
2014 74% 63%
2015 83% 68%
2016 83% 72%
2017 81% 82%
Source: Edmunds

Other automakers have moved faster than GM to expand keyless ignition across more of their lineups. Industrywide, it was standard or optional on all but 18 percent of 2017 model year vehicles, down from 37 percent three years earlier.

Some automakers are even starting to eliminate key fobs, too. Tesla’s Model 3 is designed to be unlocked and started via the driver’s smartphone, and BMW plans to let some owners use their smartphone in place of their vehicle key starting in July.

Barra: A push for push-button?

For the 2018 model year, GM says keyless ignition is optional on the Chevy Cruze, Sonic, Spark, Trax, Suburban and Tahoe and on the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. It’s not available on any pickups or commercial trucks and is standard on all other vehicles it sells in the U.S.



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