In an absolute first as well as a “why didn’t anyone do this before” moment, BMW is making a new key fob that holds a rechargeable battery. With key fobs constantly dying in push button start cars, this is an idea that is long overdue.
In a step backwards, the mechanical key is not integrated into the fob and must be carried separately, however, to unlock the door if a driver misses the need to recharge.
The key fob in question is BMW’s Display Key (right), thus far available only in the 7-Series starting with the 2015 model year. The display offers additional functionality and ‘cool’. The display also deactivates when charge gets low, a useful hint to recharge.
Recharging is accomplished with a micro USB port on the remote (arrow, above), a micro USB cable and a USB port in the center console of the car. The remote has a home it can be slipped into nearby for safekeeping (right).
Our interest of course is primarily in the recharge feature. We will thus take this opportunity to recommend that every manufacturer making push button start cars migrate to this option. USB ports are already standard.
However, please keep a mechanical key inside the fob itself. People are people and they will forget to recharge or simply not get to it in time. There must not be a need to remember where the mechanical key is! We can pretty much promise that there will be confusion as to the need for the extra key, and will get dropped in a drawer and forgotten.
An actual display is an expensive advance that is really not needed. There are other ways a key fob can announce a need for a charge, as is already done.