TRW Automotive Holdings is expanding its vehicle access product portfolio to include advanced passive entry systems and has secured initial business in North America.

Passive entry (PE) systems take the benefits of traditional remote keyless entry (RKE) system a step further and enable the car doors -and the boot if desired – to be automatically unlocked when a person carrying the key-fob comes close to the vehicle and lock automatically when the key fob holder moves away from the car without any need to press the key-fob buttons – the fob can remain in a purse, handbag or jacket pocket.

This maintains vehicle security while allowing a driver or passenger hands-free entry into the vehicle.

TRW said it had the electronics expertise to integrate the RKE/passive entry and tyre pressure monitoring system receiver functions into a single electronic control unit (ECU) to make the systems more affordable.

“There are many potential advantages to passive entry systems,” said TRW global electronics engineering vice president Martin Thoone. “Once the fob has been recognised by the passive entry system, a range of functions are available, such as lighting the interior at night time, starting the engine by pressing a start/stop button in the vehicle interior and alerting the driver if they have left the key fob in the car with the engine running.

“In addition, TRW is using its experience in RF products including RKE and tyre pressure monitoring to find ways to integrate the electronics, cutting down on the number of components and simplifying the system installation while offering greater opportunities to deliver information and personalise the driving experience.

“For example the key fobs could store vehicle data including mileage, tyre pressure data, vehicle service information and navigation map information, as well as personal settings for interior features such as seat and mirror positions and radio and air conditioning settings.”

TRW expects to launch its passive entry systems in 2012.