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OTA Keys: A carsharing solution

“Share cars. Not keys!” OTA keys‘ motto hits the nail on the head: the company develops and supplies a car sharing technology which makes it possible for car drivers to open shared and rental cars with a virtual key.

The client

“Share cars. Not keys!” OTA keys‘ motto hits the nail on the head: the company, founded in 2015 as a joint venture between car dealer D’Ieteren and automotive supplier Continental Automotive and now a Continental Automotive Subsidiary, develops and supplies a car sharing technology which makes it possible for car drivers to open shared and rental cars with a virtual key. This next generation technology is a part of the Continental aftermarket solution called Key-as-a-Service.

The match

To make the transition from traditional to virtual car keys as flawless as possible, OTA keys teamed up with Productize. Guillaume Vallet, Technical Director at OTA keys, is excited about the company’s collaboration with the Brussels-based IoT engineers: “Productize has extensive IoT expertise, and their engineers translate this knowledge to practical applications effortlessly.” This expertise has more than convinced Guillaume: “The technology we use is complex, to say the least. Early test phases, quick reactions and a healthy dose of flexibility are crucial to us”, Guillaume explains. “Productize is a small-scale, agile business, which makes it easy for them to adapt to anything instantly.”


The challenge

The sector’s complexity is the biggest challenge in this project. Every virtual key solution is an ambitious project because the context evolves continuously. On top of that, network technology is incredibly varied. “We have to bear multiple standards in mind. Does the market need 3G or 4G? Will the customers use Bluetooth, NFC? There are myriad factors you need to keep into account”, Guillaume says. He thinks this is what makes the project difficult, but also thrilling and challenging. “We work together as a team to make sure the entire IoT process is compatible”, Guillaume continues.

The Solution

Productize takes care of the hardware design for each new product. After validation, the company develops the first prototypes internally, which are immediately tested by the engineers. “Productize validates concepts quickly to stay ahead of the competitive market”, Guillaume says. “After that, everything goes into production. Briefly put, OTA keys offers an end-to-end solution from prototype to final product.”

In the meantime, OTA keys and Productize have added several large customers to their list. These businesses aren’t just active on the rental car market, but also on the car sharing market. This is evidenced by the recent announcements between Continental and their partners Avis and Turo.


Lessons learned

The most important lesson Productize and OTA keys have taken home is to create a strong bond of trust, because without trust, a partnership is doomed to fail. Productize knows that the virtual key solution is and will always be a complex project. That’s why it’s important to set up a strong core team and put collaboration between both companies at the core.

Be more than just a supplier. Don’t let your relationship with your customer revolve around invoices, not spending more attention on the product itself than strictly necessary. This attitude won’t get you far. Instead, pour your energy into the project together with the customer, as one solid team. Be honest, solution-driven and transparent. Communicate with each other to prevent unexpected problems and above all, treat the product with love.

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