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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
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
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