By Lauren Howells.
Hundreds of popular cars – including 4 out of the UK’s 5 best-selling models – are “susceptible to keyless theft”, according to consumer body Which?.
After analysing research from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) in order to discover the impact of what are known as “keyless attacks” (where criminals enter modern keyless cars by tricking the technology which these systems run on and then stealing the car) on the 5 best-selling cars in the UK last year, Which? found that 4 of them – the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus – were all susceptible to theft in this way.
Vauxhall Corsa safe from keyless attacks
Which? found that the Vauxhall Corsa was safe from attacks of this kind, as the car is not available with keyless entry and start.
This method of stealing cars, also known as “relay attack”, has been happening for several years. Manufacturers have continued to make new models which can be stolen in this way, Which? said, which means there is “an ever-larger pool of vehicles for thieves to target”.
According to the BBC, in England and Wales, the year to March 2018 saw the highest annual total of theft or unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle reported to police since 2009.
All but 3 out of 237 cars susceptible to relay attacks
A total of 237 keyless cars were tested by ADAC. All but 3 were found to be susceptible to keyless attacks, with 230 of those tested being able to be unlocked and started using relay boxes. A further 4 models could be either started or unlocked.
Which? said that the only 3 keyless cars tested that were discovered not be susceptible to relay attacks were from Jaguar Land Rover: the latest Discovery and Range Rover and the 2018 Jaguar i-Pace.
What’s more, the consumer body added that with the cost of having keyless technology sometimes an added extra when buying a car, it could be “seen as paying hundreds of pounds for a less secure vehicle”.
Which? said it was concerned that car manufacturers were sacrificing security for a small added convenience.
Car manufacturers need to “up their game”
Harry Rose, Editor of Which? Magazine said that with more than 1 car being stolen every 7 minutes, it was important that people could feel confident in the security of their vehicle.
“The fact that so many cars on the road are susceptible to keyless theft simply isn’t good enough. We want manufacturers to up their game when it comes to making their vehicles safe from theft.”
Ford, PSA Group, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Volvo and Volkswagen Group all told Which? that they took car security seriously and “ they constantly look for ways to make their cars more secure”.
According to Which? Ford advised customers to keep their key fob in a metal case to help reduce the risk of theft.
It is possible to get the keyless function turned off on some cars.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) told the BBC that “new cars are more secure than ever”.
Head of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, reportedly said: “Industry takes vehicle crime extremely seriously and any claims otherwise are categorically untrue.
“New cars are more secure than ever, and the latest technology has helped bring down theft dramatically with, on average, less than 0.3% of the cars on our roads stolen.”