By on October 6, 2008

Assuming there’s still is an auto industry in the upcoming year of magical beings, 2010, Ford plans to roll out the Nanny Key. Ford’s press release sums it up thus: “Ford’s MyKey feature — which debuts next year as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and will quickly become standard on many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models — allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume. MyKey also encourages safety-belt usage, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 miles per hour.” Parents seem quite keen on the idea, but the kids are not exactly thrilled. “Teens surveyed by Harris said they are largely open to MyKey if it means they will have more freedom to drive. Initially, 67 percent of teens polled said they wouldn’t want MyKey features. However, if using MyKey would lead to greater driving privileges, only 36 percent would object to the technology.” In our home, we achieved pretty much the same end by buying an old Volvo 240. Hey! Isn’t that a Ford product?

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32 Comments on “Big Brother Alert: Ford Introduces Nanny Key...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Or you could, you know, treat your kids are real people and talk to them about this kind of stuff, like, you know, responsible parents.

    Nah, it’s just easier to let the machine parent.

  • avatar
    N85523

    I used to drive a Crown Victoria at work that would start using other Ford keys, GM keys, a pocket knife…

    And also, when are we going to decide that the prefix “my” has outstayed its welcome and re-learn the function of the space bar?

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Of course, the parent will have to ask the kid how to work the feature.

    I think it is more likely that owners will accidentally turn on the feature and wonder why the performance of their shiny new Ford sucks.

    Or, the kid will sabotage the car by turning the nanny off and on at will, thus frustrating the parents to no end.

    Sounds like another fancy feature, like i-drive, that will end up lowering the ownership experience.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    My guess is that knowing it is a Ford development…it will fail, and them some parents will sue Ford for killing their kids.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    It’s about time. This is much better than a governor.

    As a manager with company vehicles, we would set this thing up in a heartbeat on our fleet trucks and cars. Hopefully it would lower our insurance premiums as well.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    While I detest the idea of companies interfering in the way consumers drive cars they have worked hard to pay for, this doesn’t seem that “Big Brotherish” to me. It just gives the owner more control to over his or her own car, although I admit a number of very-scary features can be concocted from this technology with little imagination required

  • avatar

    Some screenwriter just started working on a flick where a gaggle of teenyboppers is stalked on the back roads of West Virginia, unable to escape their tormentors thanks to MyKey.

    MyKiller lovers MyKey.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    I agree with thetopdog-this isn’t a case of “Big Brother”.
    More like “Big Momma”.

    My kids won’t be dirving for a while (5 & 2 years) and I would rather deal with it on the communication/responsibility level it might be nice to have the option if needed.

    Need to think about this.

    Bunter

  • avatar

    Outrage! Big Brother is taking over our lives! I swear, the day that I see a 16 year old kid weeping beside his vehicle because he cannot exceed 80 miles an hour while blasting jackass music and talking on his cell phone is the day that I move to Canada. Or Mexico, where they will be manufacturing the freedom-eaters.

    This is literally increasing the “freedom” of car owners by adding optional functionality. Unless it is the 16 year old brat laying down the $17,000 for a brand-new Focus, I suggest any whiny little snotnoses better shut up and keep it under 80, if they think they can possibly ever do so. (Boo hoo! Doesn’t daddy know I gotta fly?) The chimes are irritating, for sure, but why do we all forget that driving is not a right, but a privelege? Especially for horny, distracted, consequence-ignoring self-obsessed teens?

    I have seen these kids driving around, and I’ll be the first to support restricting their access to vehicles and subsequently their ability to kill themselves or me.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    My car, my rules. Just protecting my (future) kids and my (future) cars. If they drive anything like how I drove when I was young, wild, and care-free, then this is definitely in my plans.

    Or you could, you know, treat your kids are real people and talk to them about this kind of stuff, like, you know, responsible parents.

    My parents talked to me about this stuff and in the end, I still drove like a madman, with luck being the only reason I’m not six feet underground. Teenagers are inherently rebellious and incapable of recognizing the limits of their driving abilities or the vehicles they operate. Merely talking to them is simply not enough. If this helps keep them from driving like mad fools, then it’s just what the doctor ordered.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Just wait until the government controls Mykey, I’d like to see how anyone who supports this would feel about politicians and unelected bureaucrats deciding what you do with a car.

    What? that thought didn’t occur to some of you right away? Then you are not paying attention

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    The underground will find ways to circumvent this system. Just like they found ways to hack into the iPhone, the PS3, and other ‘unhackable’ systems.

  • avatar
    cgraham

    I understand the whole ‘my car, my rules’ thing, but if my parents had this when i was younger, i would have gone out and bought myself the nicest sh_tbox $500 could afford me, so keep that in mind before you jump on this bandwagon. An unrestricted ford focus is a lot safer than a 95 talon with a million km’s on it.
    Then again, if you are letting your teen toot around in your mustang gt…you need to give your head a shake.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Teenagers are inherently rebellious and incapable of recognizing the limits of their driving abilities or the vehicles they operate. Merely talking to them is simply not enough. If this helps keep them from driving like mad fools, then it’s just what the doctor ordered.

    That’s true, but restricting the hell out of kids without explaining to them why you’re going to do it (or generally treating them like real people) is going to result in them unwinding in a big, ugly way as soon as said restrictions are removed. Put it this way: I’d rather my son be slightly stupid in my own car, then me lock him down, only to have him cut loose like maniac in the first rental, parents or unrestricted car he gets in.

    You have to give children a little risk and consequence to help them understand it. Just saying “No” until they move out is a recipe for disaster when they do move out.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Emailed this to my dad, wished it would have been around 15 years ago when my sister and I were driving.

    Big and slow wasn’t enough for me, as I still had a V8 and RWD (79 Cutlass Supreme Brougham 260). The big backseat was what worried my girlfriend’s dad…probably because he met his wife in the same car (albiet new in those days).

  • avatar
    210delray

    Comedian: I’d like to see teenagers and the perps get up to 80+ mph on the “back roads of West Virginia” in your flick.

    Maybe each will get about 1/2 mile down the road before losing it. Don’t forget to make each car explode in a huge ball of flames as they go tumbling off the mountainside!

  • avatar
    lewissalem

    As if little Timmy can’t hack “myKey” in fifteen minutes.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    This story is being discussed on jalopnik as well. Pretty much every agrees, most of their teenage stupidity was accomplished below 80mph. I personally, would rather teach my kids as much as I can about driving including taking them to a wet/icy parking lot and get used to skid recovery and learning the limits of the car in a safe place.

  • avatar
    50merc

    “allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume”

    It’s a start, but what I really want is a key that can limit the audio volume of the rapper’s car next to mine at the stop light.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    That’s true, but restricting the hell out of kids without explaining to them why you’re going to do it (or generally treating them like real people) is going to result in them unwinding in a big, ugly way as soon as said restrictions are removed. Put it this way: I’d rather my son be slightly stupid in my own car, then me lock him down, only to have him cut loose like maniac in the first rental, parents or unrestricted car he gets in.

    You make it sound like MyKey only delays the inevitable—that your son is going to go bananas behind the wheel as soon as you toss him the keys.

    The way I see it, it’s merely an extension of my parental obligations. We know they won’t try any hoonery when you’re right there in the passenger’s seat, this just makes sure they don’t try it when you’re not in the passenger’s seat.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    quasimondo et al . . .

    No one seems to have ‘hacked’ Passive Anti Theft systems. I doubt they’ll do it here, either.

    If you haven’t realized yet that the robustness of your automobile is orders of magnitude better than that of throwaway consumer junk like iPhones and PS3s, then you probably shouldn’t be commenting here.

  • avatar
    Ian Jordan

    Since we all know the only people that buy a Ford these days are rental car corporations…

    How long before a rental car company charges you extra per day to not have the nanny key?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You make it sound like MyKey only delays the inevitable—that your son is going to go bananas behind the wheel as soon as you toss him the keys.

    Yes and no. It’s a fine point, but one that’s played out every time kids who live under iron-fist parents move away for the first time in their lives. There’s a reason why a significant number of kids who end up pregnant or in detox in frosh week are the ones who were part of top-down abstinence groups in high school.

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t an angel in my teens, but I also scared myself just enough to know where the line was. I can think of a lot of friends who weren’t quite that well, ah, educated and suffered as a result.

    MyKey is actually not so bad in this respect, but it’s not a real substitute for, say, giving a child emergency driving lessons. Or better yet, enrolling them in a light racing course.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    Nothing about my 240 has anything to do with Ford, thank you very much.

  • avatar
    jeremy5000

    Now they should come up with a key that forces old people to drive fast, and makes the blinker turn off after a few seconds.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Maybe the kid will take the dash apart and rip out the annoying chime device. I did it to the buzzer in the Chevette I drove in high school and I did it to my Mazda3 ten years later.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Okay, I know the two following comments are not directly related to each other. But the second one, which appears directly after the first gave me an initial “WTF” moment, followed by a chuckle of ironic humor.

    P71_CrownVic :

    My guess is that knowing it is a Ford development…it will fail, and them some parents will sue Ford for killing their kids.

    watersketch :

    It’s about time. This is much better than a governor.

    There, see what I mean?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Our 240 is Ford free as well, except I suppose for a couple of replacement parts I’ve bought from the Volvo dealer. The last one was a dealer only A/C line that set me back $140 … and was made in Poland. I guess I’m contributing to the Ford bailout fund directly :(.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Yes and no. It’s a fine point, but one that’s played out every time kids who live under iron-fist parents move away for the first time in their lives. There’s a reason why a significant number of kids who end up pregnant or in detox in frosh week are the ones who were part of top-down abstinence groups in high school.

    The assumption that kids who were raised by strict parents lose their minds the moment they move out of the house is something that’s based on stereotype and some ‘good girl gone bad’ fantasy.

    Personally, I’d rather have iron fisted parents who kept their kids in line over lassez-faire parents who have no idea the kind of trouble their kids were getting into.

  • avatar
    Mr. Hypercritical

    It won’t be long until every car sold in the U.S. has an 85 mph top speed limiter and our max speed limits are lowered to 55 mph once again. And wait til the safety nannies and government get their hands on this brilliant technology from Ford. I can imagine the scenario where if you had a couple of speeding tickets within a certain period of time, the court will have your keys programmed to limit speed. And don’t think about getting replacements – your name/car will be in a government database which the car dealer will be required to check before issuing new keys. This business is getting scary – it makes me want to go out and buy 3 or 4 of my favorite cars right now and just hang onto them for the gawdawful automotive future that awaits us.

    With Ford’s soccer mom throttle control (no engine braking on any Ford car I’ve driven recently), lack of direct control over every gear in its new 6 speed autos, the completely ruined Focus, no SVT product, and now this, they are pretty much giving up on the enthusiast market. And don’t talk to me about the Mustang – it’s a bloated pig of a car for sentimental baby boomers, despite the wonderful 4.6 engine.

    Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been a Ford booster since growing up in a Ford family. And my 97 F150 is the single best overall vehicle I have owned. But they are squandering their goodwill with me with every move they make.

  • avatar
    26theone

    yep I agree with quasimondo. Its just sheer luck Im still walking the earth after my teenage driving years. I had strict parents and I still drove like an idiot on several occasions. I say bring on mykey if it even makes a slight improvement to keep kids from killing themselves or other people while driving.

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