Ford tackles keyless car theft with ‘sleeping’ key fob on Kuga and Puma

To protect them from car thieves, all new Kuga and Puma models now come with a key that automatically deactivates when not in use...

Ford Fiesta ST keyless theft

Car security is a concern for many car owners whose vehicles have keyless entry because criminals can use scanning devices to gain access to their cars and drive them away, often in a matter of seconds. 

Thieves target cars with keyless entry, using relay box equipment that can pick up the signal from the key fob while it's in the owner’s home. They then use the key's code to open and start the car. 

To help combat this Ford introduced a sleeping key fob in 2019, making it standard on the Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus. It's now added the technology to its two popular SUVs, the Ford Kuga and Ford Puma, as well as the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. 

Ford sleeping key fob

The key fob deactivates when it hasn't been moved for more than 40 seconds. It will not respond to attempts to hack its signal via a relay box or through the misuse of other specialist equipment.

Moving the keyless fob by picking it up from somewhere in the home will restore it to full functionality by the time driver approaches their car.  Ford fobs are designed to operate only within a two-metre radius of the cars they are bonded to.

Since the key fobs were introduced to the Fiesta, thefts of this model have dropped by two-thirds, according to security analyst Retainagroup. It states that 231 latest-generation Fiestas were stolen in 2020, compared with 3152 previous generation (2009-2017) cars. These figures equate to 3.06 thefts per 1000 cars on the road for the older model and 1.03 for the latest Fiesta.

Ford Fiesta ST keyless theft

Simon Hurr, Ford security specialist, said:  “The online availability of devices, which have no place in public hands, has long been a problem for Ford, our industry and crime fighters.  We are pleased to extend our simple but effective solution, to help protect more owners of our most popular cars.”  

To help existing Ford owners, dealerships are offering a security upgrade with replacement sleep-mode fobs priced from £65 for the Fiesta and £72 for the Focus, plus 0.9 hours labour to programme and test the keys.  This is available to owners of the latest Fiesta, on sale since 2017, and of the Focus that was introduced in 2018.

Richard Billyeald, chief technical officer at Thatcham Research, commented: “This is great news for car owners and the wider automotive industry. There is a known weakness in keyless entry systems, and we are pleased that Ford has come up with a simple and effective response on these big-selling models. We hope other car makers will respond in a similar fashion.”

Thatcham Research has released its own consumer car security ratings that highlight the makes and models that are most vulnerable to keyless theft.  

Next: What Car?'s car theft group test reveals the most and least secure cars > 

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