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Saab Develops 'Alcokey' Breathalyser

15 June, 2004

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SAAB IS DEVELOPING an innovative car key that doubles up as a miniature breathalyser to prevent potential drink drivers from starting their cars.

What makes the Saab ‘Alcokey’ unique is its size and that it will be integrated into the car key – unlike more costly and complicated alcohol detecting devices fitted to a car’s dashboard or door locks.

Saab Alcokey is being trialed in Sweden with the support of the influential Swedish National Road Administration.

Alcokey’s ease of use and relative affordability – around $400 – means it could be offered as an accessory through Saab dealers if the trials prove successful.

The Saab Alcokey concept features a small mouthpiece in the car’s key fob. When the driver presses the ‘doors open’ button on the car key fob, the alcohol sensor is also switched on.

The driver then blows into a small mouthpiece at the end of the fob to provide a breath sample which passes down a small internal tube containing a semi-conductor.

The sample is then analysed, and a small green or red light on the fob is illuminated. If the green light is shown, the key will transmit an ‘all clear’ signal to the car’s electronic control unit to allow the engine to be started.

However, if a red light is shown, the ‘all clear’ signal will not be sent and the engine will, therefore, remain immobilised.

The software instructing the engine immobiliser can be adjusted according to statutory alcohol limits.

The current prototype Alcokey is a separate unit, about 10cm long and 4cm wide, additional to a conventional Saab key. It is envisaged that the final production version of the Alcokey will see both the key and alcohol detector contained in a single, pocket-sized unit.

Mounting concern about drink driving in Sweden as well as other countries has prompted Saab to develop the Alcokey concept.

Companies operating large car fleets could be anxious to demonstrate their social responsibility by having an alcohol-detecting device such as Alcokey fitted as standard. Insurance companies may also provide incentives for drivers of cars fitted with Alcokey.

“Saab is an innovative brand and in that tradition the Alcokey concept is a very practical and efficient solution,” says Saab’s global President and CEO, Mr. Peter Augustsson. “Saab Alcokey will help those who want to be sure they should only get behind the wheel when they are fit to drive.”

Last year alcohol was a factor in 29 per cent of driver deaths on Swedish roads.

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