Ford on Monday unveiled a new car key that holds a computer chip that can help parents keep tabs and a restraining virtual hand on their teen drivers.
The automaker said the new MyKey feature is slated to first become standard equipment in the 2010 Focus Coupe. The chip limits top speed to 80 miles per hour and sounds speed-alert chimes at 45, 55 and 65 mph.
The chip also enables parents to limit the volume of the radio to 44 percent of total volume and won't allow the traction control system to be deactivated.
Ford unveiled the new chip just months after embedding radio frequency identification technology in its pickup trucks and vans to tag and track contractor tools, construction equipment and materials.
The RFID technology became an option in Ford F-150 trucks, F-Series Super Duty trucks and E-Series vans last month.
The new key also offers a more persistent seat-belt reminder than typical Ford automobiles, which ring a six-second chime once per minute for five minutes if a seat belt is not buckled. The MyKey chime will continue at regular intervals, and the audio system is muted until the seat belt is fastened.
"MyKey can help promote safer driving, particularly among teens, by encouraging seat belt use, limiting speed and reducing distractions," said Susan Cischke, a Ford group vice president, in a statement.
The company did not disclose what kind of chip has been installed in the key.
Ford reported that it sponsored a Harris Interactive survey, in which 50% of parents of teenage drivers said they would be more willing to let their teens use a family car if it had the new technology. However, on the other side of the coin, 67% of teenagers said they wouldn't want to use MyKey, though that number dropped to 36% if it meant they wouldn't be allowed to drive otherwise.
The new technology also is slated to become a standard feature in other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, but the company did not specify which ones or how soon it would happen.