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Industry Overview

A connected car refers to a vehicle capable of optimizing its own operation and maintenance, as well as the convenience and comfort of passengers, using internet connectivity and onboard sensors.

Traditional interaction has been between human and car. Now, with connected car capabilities, interaction has also been enabled between consumer devices and the connected vehicle, connected vehicle to connected vehicle, and connected vehicle to road infrastructure.

To achieve a robust and reliable interaction, there is a need for close collaboration between the automotive industry and device manufacturers; together they must secure the machine-to-machine connection and deliver ultimate consumer convenience.

One high-profile connected car use case is the provision of digital car keys. In this scenario, smart devices – including smartphones and smart watches - act as a digital key for a connected vehicle, allowing drivers to lock, unlock, start the engine and share access to the car.

Digitalizing a car key brings consumer convenience and benefits. For example, the key validity can be restricted to a certain timeframe, and other parameters can be pre-defined, i.e. the car can only be driven a certain distance or within a pre-determined speed range. These properties can bring significant advantages if the car is shared with a third party, such as with a family member or a valet.

A car, however, is an expensive asset. The transformation of a car key from a physical to a digital solution raises questions around identity and privacy. For example: what happens if a smart device is stolen? What access rights does the car have to the information on the smart device? If ownership of the vehicle is transferred, how can the digital key be shared securely?

The capacity for connectivity also offers new possibilities for the car manufacturer to interact with the vehicle and travellers to ensure a safe journey.

GlobalPlatform Technology

The Car Connectivity Consortium, an organization focused on enabling seamless mobile device-to-vehicle connectivity, has completed phase one of a digital key specification.

Once finalized, the technical document will form the basis of a digital key ecosystem that covers all cars and devices. It will deliver a fully interoperable digital car key solution which can be used in all use cases, from individual drivers to across fleet management, car rental and car sharing companies.

The specification uses GlobalPlatform Card Specification. GlobalPlatform Secure Element (SE) technology enables a secure connection between the car and the device. It facilitates:

  • Deployment of the key from the car manufacturer to the first consumer purchasing the vehicle.
  • The transition of digital key ownership between drivers.
  • Authentication of the owner (or permitted user of the vehicle) and the access rights that they have been granted.

Car manufacturer’s future revenue will be based on new services offered to travellers. GlobalPlatform technology can be used to protect critical features of connected cars and protect the sensitive intellectual property that supports market differentiators for car manufacturers and suppliers.

Industry Partner Comments

Connected cars have unprecedented potential, but success relies on the industry effectively delivering privacy, security, and identity management solutions that result in complete consumer confidence. CCC shares this common goal with GlobalPlatform and appreciates our liaison partnership. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with GlobalPlatform in delivering an interoperable, secure, and convenient digital car key solution.

- Mahfuzur Rahman, President, Car Connectivity Consortium
Car Connectivity Consortium Mahfuzur Rahman, President

GlobalPlatform Card Specification


GlobalPlatform Systems Specification


Car Connectivity Consortium Publishes Digital Key Release 2.0 Whitepaper


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