Immobiliser Introduction – Part 1


Vehicular security needs are constantly changing. From the invention of the immobilizer system and on, security needs continue to increase. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is a widely used anti-theft system in vehicles. Its unique features offer solid security and cost less than many other technologies on the market.

This article reviews how the first and second generation of immobilizer systems functioned and compares varying levels of security. It then gives an overview of the newest technology: crypto transponders.


  1. Introduction

The immobilizer system was invented by Edward Birkenbuel and St. George Evans and patented in 1919. It was not until the 1990s, however, when a worldwide increase in car theft, made insurance companies take action. Many insurers in Germany began pushing for the installation of these systems and by 1998, it was mandatory in all new automobile designs. In other countries also, government agencies began facing the problem of vehicle theft and enforcing stricter laws on security.


In a very short time, the automotive industry produced many systems to help secure vehicles against thieves. Laws and methods varied internationally. Remote keyless entry was popular in the United States and France while Germany implemented far more transparent systems. With the RFID’s unique features, and its preexisting prevalence in the industry, small battery-free transponders were frequently used. These small tools set up high security for vehicles and a low cost.


OEM immobilizers quickly became the most prevalent. Statistical analysis from Germany companies confirmed the overwhelming success of this system. Vehicle thefts were down 90% when compared to cars without the immobilizers. Given its success, almost all European markets used this immobilizer on all new models of automobile beginning early in 1995.


No matter the level of technology or the statistical success of any security system, however, criminals don’t remain stagnant. With the resources and capabilities to study security systems, they can quickly learn to bypass and outsmart them. Therefore, security companies must remain vigilant and constantly rework the build of automotive security, staying ahead of the criminals. Key-based immobilizers have varying levels of security, but the new crypto-transponder surpasses them all, offering the highest level of security of any RFID device…


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