China Automotive Digital Key Research Report, 2023
  • Mar.2023
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Automotive Digital Key Research: the pace of mobile phones replacing physical keys quickens amid the booming market

"China Automotive Digital Key Research Report, 2023" released by ResearchInChina combs through and summarizes the digital key market, supply chain, chip vendors, system integrators and OEMs, and predicts future trends.

In 2030, the installation rate of digital keys in China will exceed 80%.

In 2022, 4.573 million passenger cars were installed with digital keys in China, a year-on-year upsurge of 93.8%, with the installation rate up to 23.0%, about 11.4 percentage points higher than in the previous year. The overall digital key market is burgeoning.

Thanks to the market demand and the mature BLE, NFC and UWB technologies, the Chinese digital key market is entering a 10-year boom period. It is predicted that the installation rate of digital keys for passenger cars in China will exceed 80% by 2030, and the BLE+NFC or BLE+NFC+UWB integrated solution will prevail in the market.

KEY 1_副本.png

BLE+NFC and BLE+NFC+UWB will target the low- & mid-end, and high-end markets, respectively.

By segments in 2022, the digital key market is characterized by the following.

1. By technology:

  • BLE is still the mainstream in the market, but its installations account for a decreasing proportion year by year.
  • The installations of the BLE+NFC integrated solution enjoy a fast-growing share of the installations.
  • The BLE+NFC+UWB integrated solution is mounted on vehicles.

2. By price range:

  • Models worth RMB150,000 or below mainly adopt BLE, while the proportion of the BLE+NFC solution in them is on the rise year by year.
  • Models worth RMB150,000-300,000 tend to use the BLE+NFC solution, which has replaced BLE and become the mainstream solution.
  • Models worth over RMB300,000 have introduced UWB, and the BLE+NFC+UWB integrated solution has been seen in vehicles.

KEY 2_副本.png

In the years to come, the market segments are expected to develop in a differentiated way on the premise of prevailing integrated solutions.

The BLE+NFC solution will dominate in the low- & mid-end markets where models are priced below RMB200,000.

  • The big advantage of the BLE+NFC solution lies in its high cost performance. On one hand, it does not need a physical smart key required by a PEPS system; on the other hand, costing only tens of yuan more than a BLE or an NFC solution, the solution can just deal with emergencies, for example, mobile phones run out of power, so it is more suitable for cost-effective models valued below RMB200,000. 
  • It is predicted that the installation rate of the BLE+NFC solution will swell from 10% in 2022 to 40% in 2030 as the most popular automotive digital key solution in China.

The BLE+NFC+UWB solution will be first mounted on intelligent EV models priced at over RMB400,000.

  • The BLE+NFC+UWB solution outperforms in security, positioning accuracy and availability, but it costs threefold more than the NFC+BLE solution.
  • In 2022, the installation rate of UWB in mobile phones was about 20%, far lower than Bluetooth (100%) and NFC (50%). Only Apple, Samsung Note20 Series and Xiaomi MIX4 were equipped with UWB chips.
  • It is expected that the BLE+NFC+UWB solution will be first available to models priced at over RMB400,000, and then to models worth RMB200,000-300,000, especially intelligent new energy vehicles.

The competition among digital key suppliers intensifies.

In terms of the supply chain, NXP, ST and TI mainly provide communication chips, G+D Mobile Security primarily offers security chips, and INGEEK is a provider of backend software, while system integrators link upstream software and hardware suppliers and provide digital key systems to OEMs directly.

In 2022, FinDreams Technology, Pektron and YF Tech acted as major digital key system integrators in China.

  • FinDreams Technology mainly provided in-house support for BYD, with a far bigger market share than its counterparts.
  • Pektron primarily supported Tesla.
  • YF Tech was a supporting service provider of GAC Aion, GAC Trumpchi, Li Auto, Dongfeng FX, AITO and HYCAN.

KEY 3_副本.png

YF Tech focuses on four fields: intelligent cockpits, intelligent driving, body electronics and intelligent electric. It has independently developed integrated digital key solutions covering cloud, mobile phones and cars. It has cooperated with more than 20 automakers on mass production and designated projects, and supported over 50 production models.

In Q3 2022, YF Tech produced its BLE+NFC+UWB solution in quantities. This solution is compatible with private protocols/ICCOA/CCC/ICCE and other industry specifications and enables such functions as active unlocking, offline sharing and NFC unlocking.

In 2023, the digital key of YF Tech is to be added to high accuracy distance measurement (HADM) modules to enable deep integration between smartphones and IVI systems, and other extended functions. It has been designated by a top OEM and an emerging auto brand.

KEY 4_副本.png

UWB will become the biggest hotspot in the future.

Following BLE and NFC, UWB will become a hotspot in the future market, so Chinese and foreign suppliers are stepping up their layout.

20120114.gifIn 2022, KOSTAL mass-produced UWB keys for NIO ET7 and ET5. It will spawn the UWB-based tailgate kick solution in the future.
20120114.gifContinental's UWB-based CoSmA digital key system has secured orders from three mainstream automakers.
20120114.gifMarquardt’s PnD3 digital key composed of UWB module, ECU and door handle sensor is a modular solution.
20120114.gifHella, a subsidiary of FORVIA, will launch the UWB-based Smart Car Access system in 2023.
20120114.gifThe BLE+NFC+UWB solution co-developed by Alps Alpine and G+D Mobile Security will be marketed in 2025.
20120114.gifBosch's Identity xtended is a next-generation UWB-based keyless product.

20120114.gifTsingCar has established two business lines of UWB digital keys and UWB radars, and has forged close partnerships on projects with mainstream OEMs and Tier1 suppliers.
20120114.gifUBITRAQ provides digital keys, radars and other products based on UWB, and offers flexible software and hardware cooperation modes to Tier1 suppliers.
20120114.gifYF Tech boasts high, medium and low configuration digital key solutions that support BLE/NFC/UWB positioning modules. In 2023, it will implement mass production projects for several leading OEMs/emerging carmakers.
20120114.gifINGEEK’s Intelligent Connected System (ICS) enables "person-vehicle-scenario” digital connection through communication modes such as 4G/5G/BLE/UWB/NFC.
20120114.gifBased on Bosch's technology, UAES has introduced a variety of NFC/BLE/UWB digital key solutions. Wherein, the BLE+UWB digital key was put into production in its Liuzhou factory in May 2022.
20120114.gifThe UWB digital key solution promoted by ADAYO has been designated by Changan Automobile and Great Wall Motor, and came into mass production in the second half of 2022.
20120114.gifDesay SV together with TrustKernel launched a UWB digital key solution, and secured orders from customers in 2022.

KEY 5_副本.png

At present, the 4+1 or 0+4 UWB solution finds broad application in the industry. 4+1 stands for four exterior anchor points (on both sides of the front and rear bumpers) and one interior anchor point (center console), providing a wider coverage and the overall performance of keys.

UBITRAQ has introduced its pioneering, patented UWB-AOA single base station positioning system to UWB digital key application scenarios. This product can reduce the number of anchor points in a single vehicle with a UWB digital key from five to at least one (one UWB-AOA is deployed inside). It is currently in closed beta.

KEY 6_副本.png

Main advantages of UBITRAQ's UWB solution:
1. Reduce the number of UWB anchor points from 5 to 1, slashing the hardware cost;
2. Use fewer devices and wire harnesses, lowering installation difficulty and cost;
3. Lower complexity and higher reliability;
4. Lower maintenance cost.

YF Tech provides different solutions (high, medium and low configurations) to customers. Wherein, the medium and high configuration solutions based on BLE, UWB and NFC modules enable centimeter-level positioning, obtain user trajectories, predict user behaviors, and allow for customization of gesture extension functions.

1. Overview of Automotive Digital Keys
1.1 Development History of Automotive Keys
1.2 Overview of Automotive Digital Keys
1.3 Application Fields of Digital Keys
1.4 Main Advantages of Digital Keys
1.5 Technology Routes of Digital Keys
1.6 Bluetooth Keys
1.6.1 Features of Bluetooth Key System
1.6.2 In-vehicle Application of Bluetooth Keys
1.6.3 Composition of Bluetooth Key System
1.7 NFC Keys
1.7.1 Features of NFC Key System
1.7.2 Composition of NFC Key System
1.7.3 In-vehicle Application of NFC Keys
1.8 UWB Keys
1.8.1 Features of UWB Key System
1.8.2 Application Fields of NFC Keys
1.8.3 Mobile Phones Are the First to Use UWB
1.8.4 In-vehicle Application of UWB Keys
1.8.5 Composition of UWB Key System
1.8.6 Digital Key Launch Timetable of Major Automakers
1.8.7 Typical BLE+UWB+NFC Digital Key Configuration Solutions  
1.8.8 Development Trends of UWB
1.9 Standard Specifications of Digital Keys
1.9.1 Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC)
1.9.2 FiRa Consortium
1.9.3 IIFAA
1.9.4 ICCE
1.9.5 ICCOA

2. Status Quo of Automotive Digital Key Market
2.1 Overall Digital Key Market
2.1.1 Installations and Installation Rate
2.1.2 By Major Brands and Models
2.1.3 By Price Range
2.1.4 By Enterprise Type 
2.1.5 By Technology
2.2 Bluetooth Key Market Segment
2.2.1 Installations and Installation Rate
2.2.2 By Major Brands and Models
2.2.3 By Price Range
2.2.4 By Enterprise Type
2.3 NFC Key Market Segment
2.3.1 Installations and Installation Rate
2.3.2 By Major Brands and Models
2.3.3 By Price Range
2.4 BLE+NFC Key Market Segment
2.4.1 Installations and Installation Rate
2.4.2 By Major Brands and Models
2.4.3 By Price Range
2.5 BLE+NFC+UWB Key Market Segment
2.5.1 Installations and Installation Rate
2.5.2 By Major Brands and Models
2.5.3 By Price Range
2.6 PEPS and Digital Keys Segment 
2.6.1 Introduction to PEPS System
2.6.2 Installations and Installation Rate 
2.6.3 By Major Brands and Models
2.6.4 By Price Range
2.6.5 By Enterprise Type
2.6.6 Market Size
2.6.7 Global PEPS Suppliers
2.6.8 Chinese PEPS Suppliers

3. Digital Key Industry Chain and Development Trends
3.1 Digital Key Industry Chain
3.1.1 Digital Key Chips
3.1.2 UWB Chips
3.1.3 Digital Key Software Providers
3.1.4 Digital Key System Integrators
3.1.5 Product layout of Digital Key System Suppliers (Foreign Enterprises)
3.1.6 Product Layout of Digital Key System Suppliers (Domestic Enterprises)
3.2 Digital Key Cost Composition
3.2.1 Digital Key Cost Composition: NFC Keys
3.2.2 Digital Key Cost Composition: BLE Keys
3.2.3 Digital Key Cost Composition: NFC+ BLE
3.2.4 Digital Key Cost Composition: BLE+NFC+UWB
3.3 Digital Key Market Size Forecast (I)
3.4 Digital Key Market Size Forecast (II)
3.5 Digital Key Development Trends (1)
3.6 Digital Key Development Trends (2)
3.7 Digital Key Development Trends (3)
3.8 Digital Key Development Trends (4)
3.9 Digital Key Development Trends (5)

4. Automotive Digital Key Layout of OEMs
4.1 Chinese Independent Brands
4.1.1 Digital Key Installations and Installation Rate in Passenger Cars of Chinese Independent Brands  
4.1.2 Passenger Car Brands and Models with Digital Keys of Chinese Independent Brands
4.1.3 Digital Key Prices and Technologies for Passenger Cars of Chinese Independent Brands  
4.1.4 BYD
4.1.5 Changan Automobile
4.1.6 Geely
4.2 Emerging Brands 
4.2.1 Digital Key Installations and Installation Rate in Passenger Cars of Emerging Brands
4.2.2 Passenger Car Brands and Models with Digital Keys of Emerging Brands
4.2.3 Digital Key Prices and Technologies for Passenger Cars of Emerging Brands
4.2.4 Tesla
4.2.5 Li Auto
4.2.6 NIO
4.2.7 Xpeng
4.3 Joint Venture Brands 
4.3.1 Digital Key Installations and Installation Rate in Passenger Cars of Joint Venture Brands
4.3.2 Passenger Car Brands and Models with Digital Keys of Joint Venture Brands
4.3.3 Digital Key Prices and Technologies for Passenger Cars of Joint Venture Brands
4.3.4 Hyundai
4.3.5 BMW

5. Digital Key Chip Suppliers
5.1 NXP
5.1.1 Profile
5.1.2 Automotive Access Control System and Products
5.1.3 Bluetooth MCU 
5.1.4 NFC+BLE Digital Key Solution
5.1.5 NFC+BLE+UWB Digital Key Solution
5.1.6 Automotive-grade UWB Chip: NCJ29D5 
5.1.7 WPG - WPI’s Digital Key Solution based on NXP NCJ29D5  
5.2 ST
5.2.1 Profile
5.2.2 Next-generation Automotive-grade NFC Reader IC 
5.2.3 Digital Key Solutions
5.2.4 Digital Key Customers
5.3 TI
5.3.1 Profile 
5.3.2 System Structure of Phone as a Key (PaaK)

6. Foreign Digital Key System Suppliers
6.1 Pektron
6.1.1 Profile
6.1.2 Digital Key Products
6.2 G+D Mobile Security
6.2.1 Profile
6.2.2 Main Digital Key Customers
6.3 Alps Alpine
6.3.1 Profile
6.3.2 Brand New Digital Key System 
6.3.3 Alps Alpine and G+D Jointly Develop Wireless Digital Key System Based on CCC Specification
6.4 Marquardt
6.4.1 Profile
6.4.2 PEPS
6.4.3 PnD3 Digital Key
6.5 Irdeto
6.5.1 Profile
6.5.2 Digital Key Solution: Keystone 
6.5.3 Chinese Digital Key Customers
6.6 Bosch
6.6.1 Profile
6.6.2 Perfectly Keyless
6.6.3 UWB-based Identity Xtended
6.6.4 Mass Production of Digital Key Controllers in China 
6.7 Valeo
6.7.1 Profile
6.7.2 Digital Key: InBlue   
6.7.3 InBlue APP
6.8 Continental
6.8.1 Profile
6.8.2 Digital Key Development History
6.8.3 UWB Digital Key
6.9.1 Profile
6.9.2 UWB Key
6.10.1 Profile
6.10.2 UWB Digital Key System
6.10.3 Launch of UWB Digital Key
6.11 Denso
6.11.1 Profile
6.11.2 BLE Digital Key
6.12 Huf Group
6.12.1 Profile
6.12.2 Mobile Phone Digital Key System
6.12.3 Mobile Phone Key Services and Technology
6.12.4 Communication Technology of Mobile Phone Key System
6.13.1 Profile
6.13.2 Dynamics of Digital Key Business
6.13.3 Digital Key Solutions
6.13.4 FREEKEY Digital Key System
6.13.5 UWB Digital Key Solution

7. Domestic Digital Key System Suppliers
7.1.1 Profile
7.1.2 Digital Key Products by Level
7.1.3 Digital Key Products
7.1.4 ICS
7.1.5 Digital Key Application Scenarios
7.1.6 Cybersecurity Solutions
7.1.7 Cybersecurity Services
7.1.8 Release of "My Car Keys” with Tencent Mobility
7.1.9 Digital Key Partners
7.2 YF Tech
7.2.1 Profile
7.2.2 Overall Solutions for Intelligent Vehicles
7.2.3 Digital Key Product Matrix
7.2.4 Digital Key System Framework
7.2.5 Digital Key Configuration Solutions
7.2.6 Digital Key Patents
7.2.7 Core Digital Key Technology
7.2.8 Digital Key Security Mechanism
7.2.9 Digital Key Features
7.2.10 Digital Key Application Scenarios
7.2.11 Advantages of Digital Key Cooperation
7.2.12 Customers & Models Supported
7.2.13 Digital Key Ecological Resources
7.3.1 Profile
7.3.2 UWB Positioning System
7.3.3 UWB-based Automotive Products
7.3.4 UWB Digital Key
7.3.5 UWB Radar
7.4.1 Profile
7.4.2 Digital Key Technology Innovation
7.4.3 Digital Key Development Route
7.5 Jingwei Hirain
7.5.1 Profile
7.5.2 Development History
7.5.3 Automotive electronic accessories
7.5.4 Body Domain Controllers and PEPS Products
7.5.5 Digital Key Product Supply
7.6.1 Profile
7.6.2 Development History
7.6.3 Business Scope
7.6.4 Digital Key Business
7.6.5 Qing Mobile
7.7 TsingCar
7.7.1 Profile
7.7.2 UWB Digital Key Solution
7.7.3 UWB Application Scenarios
7.8 Vecentek
7.8.1 Profile
7.8.2 Digital Key Solutions
7.9 TrustKernel
7.9.1 Profile
7.9.2 Digital Key Products
7.9.3 Digital Key Solutions
7.9.4 Bluetooth Key Solution
7.9.5 UWB Digital Key Solution
7.10 Allhopes
7.10.1 Profile
7.10.2 IIFAA Digital Key Product Structure
7.10.3 Features of IIFAA Digital Keys
7.10.4 IIFAA Digital Key 2.0
7.10.5 Digital Key & Shared Car Solutions
7.10.6 Car Rental & Auto Finance Solutions
7.10.7 Cooperation Cases (Cesiumai Smart RV System)

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