BMW's Ian Robertson, who is a board member and also responsible for sales at the car maker, has said that car keys will likely be fazed out in favor of apps. Robertson stated, when talking with Reuters that customers always have their phone with them, and there is already a BMW app that allows you to do things like unlocking your car and even starting the car. So he sees little need for an actual car key in the near future. These days, most cars don't even need the key to be put into the ignition to start the car, and most customers don't take it out of their pocket, so there's little need for actually having a car key.
Now Robertson was careful to say that BMW may do this now or in the future, or it may not happen at all. But it is something that the company is looking at. Obviously there are quite a few things that need to be looked at when thinking about getting rid of car keys altogether. Beginning with the fact that most people are going to be worried about losing their phone – which already has a ton of their personal data inside – and losing the key to their car. Obviously BMW will likely force users to authenticate themselves each time they want to jump into the BMW app, and do things like start their car. Perhaps by using a fingerprint or even scanning your eyes – if it's a Samsung smartphone. But these are all things the company is looking at, and nothing concrete has been formed just yet.
Car keys likely won't be going away anytime soon, it's something that will likely take around a decade or more to fully faze out. Seeing as the used car market is pretty big these days, and not many people are buying "new" cars, it's going to take some time to fully get rid of traditional car keys. Not to mention, other car makers would need to follow BMW on this path. It's entirely possible that other car makers are looking at getting rid of car keys as well, of course there's no easy way to do this, with keeping the driver's peace of mind. But it is something to look forward to in the future.