Shortage of chips forces Toyota to issue metal keys for Japanese cars

Generic car key

Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor (Getty Images)

Car keys have officially become the latest victim of the continuing shortage of chips. Reuters reports that Toyota announced plans to give new car buyers a mechanical key instead of a smart key.

“As the semiconductor shortage continues, this is an interim measure to deliver cars to customers as soon as possible,” Toyota said in a statement.

That said, it’s not as drastic a change as it initially seems. Toyota doesn’t do this with every new car it sells. At least for now, this only affects new Toyota sales in Japan. And Japanese Toyota buyers won’t just get mechanical keys. They will still receive a smart key, with the mechanical key replacing the second key that comes with the car.

Toyota also says this is only temporary and when more smart keys become available, customers will get their second smart key. Unfortunately for Japanese Toyota buyers, there’s no estimate of when that will be.

“As for the second smart key, we plan to hand it out as soon as it’s ready,” Toyota said.

This news comes a few days later the news has come that Toyota had told suppliers that due to chip shortages it would no longer be able to meet its production targets for the year. This news was not the biggest surprise given the severity of the shortage. Toyota had been slowly cutting monthly production without officially changing plans to build 9.7 million vehicles this year.

And while the added cost of giving customers a mechanical key on top of two smart keys means it’s unlikely to voluntarily adopt a permanent three-key policy, recent news about issues with smart keys suggests that it might actually be a good idea.

For example, even though there is a metal key included in most smart keys, customers who get locked out of their Polestar 2 can now know. And then, of course, there’s Tesla. When The weather is always good star Glenn Howerton’s smart key malfunctioned, his Model X stuck in a parking lot during many days.