Ford has introduced a 'super-tough' ignition key which is designed to last a lifetime in the hands of the most demanding drivers.
The manufacturer tested the key – for Transit and Transit Custom vans – to ensure it could survive being submerged underwater for 30 minutes, dropped 50 times onto a concrete floor and exposed to temperatures from 60C to -20C.
The fob looks like any other ignition key, with a keypad to lock the vehicle and a flip-style key blade.
However, it is permanently sealed shut, with the two halves of the plastic housing joined by friction welding.
The inside of the key is designed to resist typical workplace impacts, and a rechargeable battery cell is charged whenever the key is placed in the ignition, to ensure it never runs out of charge.
Jonathan Allan, electrical engineering supervisor, of Ford of Europe, said: "Our customers want a key which can tackle the hard knocks of construction sites and city deliveries, and keep coming back for more.
“While a mobile phone can sometimes let you down, Ford has ensured that Transit drivers have a key which is just as rugged as their vehicle.”
Engineers also tested the key using using climatic chambers in temperatures simulating everything from desert heat to arctic cold, and in humidity levels of up to 100%.
Further tests included ensuring:
- Dust resistance – five hours surrounded by a fine, penetrating dust
- Chemical resistance – up to 96 hours continuous exposure to diesel, petrol, ethanol, detergents and sweat
- Pocket simulation – four hours non-stop vibration with coins and other keys
- Button durability – 10 button presses with 12 times the usual force
- Endurance – 100,000 activations in temperatures ranging from 50C to -10C
The shockproof key is the latest generation of a design which has been refined and developed with 10 years of feedback from Transit customers.