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Continental, Avis turn phones into rental car keys

The pair is running a pilot program for this tech in Kansas City.

Nobody really enjoys the rental car process, but Continental and Avis have teamed up to inject it with a bit of 21st-century tech that could make the whole thing a bit smoother.

Continental and Avis Budget Group announced today that they're testing an entirely keyless rental-car system. Using a smart device, renters will be able to lock, unlock and even start their rental car without needing to hunt down a physical key or key fob.

The system relies on Continental's Key-as-a-Service technology, which doesn't require any change to the circuitry or the underpinnings of the car itself. It's just a few hardware modifications, and it relies on Continental's backend services.

Sadly, the car will not have a hot cup of coffee ready every time you want to set off. That tech is still a ways away.


"By partnering with Avis Budget Group, we are able to bring this innovative technology, backed by the deep automotive know-how of Continental, to new customers," said Ralf Lenninger, head of Continental's intelligent transportation systems, in a statement. "We look forward to working with Avis Budget Group to explore and further develop the efficiencies and future possibilities that this solution provides."

For now, the pilot program is limited to a single market -- the Kansas City area. But, if all goes according to plan, it's likely to roll out to additional markets in the future. Not only will the system have to work well, it'll have to prove itself as a system that buyers actually want. Some people prefer traditional keys, but considering there's a smart device in nearly every person's pocket, some renters will likely appreciate the reduced clutter that comes with ditching the key.

Continental will also demo this service at the 2018 CES trade show in Las Vegas. Roadshow will be on the ground during CES' press days, so stick around and we'll see if we can bring you a proper demo of this system.