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Product Spotlight: Gates Innovations BMW Key Fob Upgrades

For a long time, the key used to be a crucial tactile experience to start your car and thus carried priority in terms of design. But with the advent of keyless operation (Comfort Access in BMW speak), there definitely was a lull in this capacity—the key took a proverbial back seat in aesthetics as it became less of an everyday interaction and more of a strange lump that never left your pocket.

That may be a passable offense to some BMW drivers nowadays, but I'm sure that car enthusiasts can attest to one thing: every detail matters. Indeed, BMW righted their wrong soon enough. Early adopters to some of BMW's flagship models (like the i8) were treated to the Display Key as a showcase of Bavaria's technological capabilities while the BMW M lineup are fashioned with a very handsome, weighty, and well-made piece of kit that befits the brand—the ones we are here to talk about today. 

Because of this, the unlucky owners who have begrudgingly relegated their plain Jane Comfort Access keys to a life behind the confines of a case have been yearning for a way to experience a bit of the good life. We want a key that we can be proud of putting on the table after a good drive rather than forgetting about entirely until it's due for a battery swap. Well, after an exhaustive search, we're proud to tell you that the day of reckoning has come.

Alongside Gates Innovations, we are proud to offer key fob upgrades for 2006-2013 E-Chassis and F-Chassis BMWs.

Eligible BMW Keys for Key Fob UpdateEligible BMW Keys for Key Fob Update

As shown above, there are essentially three different BMW fob types that are candidates for this update: the aforementioned 2006-2013 E-Chassis keys and two F-Chassis options. The upgrade procedure is fairly similar across each of the three options—interested parties send their functioning OEM key to us, we perform the appropriate retrofit, test the new key, and then send our customers their new and old OEM fob. 

Gates Innovations BMW E-Chassis Key UpgradeGates Innovations BMW E-Chassis Key UpgradeGates Innovations BMW E-Chassis Key UpgradeGates Innovations BMW E-Chassis Key UpgradeIt's an amazing process to witness from start to finish. There's a certain microscopic artisanship that is required to consistently and accurately update these keys and Gates Innovations, given their vast experience within this industry, has it down to a science.

After we got the call that an E-Chassis update was finally possible, it didn't take long before Gates Innovations was working his magic on my own E90 M3 key.

A dramatic improvement - our E90 M3 key in its new home

The extra heft of the new key (2.6oz vs 1.1oz) adds to its premium feel and handling the OEM key directly after elicited an audible "ugh". If the new key is an iPhone 12, the old fob is a Fisher Price toddler toy. The difference is that far between.While the E-Chassis BMW fob is a slim fellow, the F-Chassis key that followed it was quite a bulbous character. The Gates Innovations update is a much more chiseled and vastly more pleasurable to operate. It's a very "you versus the guy she told you not to worry about" arrangement, but at least in this situation, you have the power to upgrade. The OEM F-Chassis key also benefits from a weight gain and the full 1oz of muscle makes a big difference.

F-Chassis cars can also opt to get the included key blade blank cut by a third party BMW locksmith to restore full functionality to your Gates fob. Pretty cool.

Gates Innovations F-Chassis Key Update GuideYour new Gates Innovations key retains the same button layout as you're accustomed with some caveats for 3-button F-Chassis models and E-Chassis keys because both lack the OEM alarm siren button.

While all E-Chassis keys are 315MHz, there are some F-Chassis cars that carry different frequencies. Generally speaking, the earlier years (pre-2014) are still 315MHz while newer models (2014+) are largely 434MHz units. To account for this frequency difference, we are stocking bodies to suit either demand and will determine the correct frequency for your model.

How to determine your BMW F-Chassis key frequencyFor customers looking for a bit of protection for their new key, we are extremely proud to carry the newest "Type C" key case from 3D Design JapanThis is literally the only key case that we wholeheartedly endorse—it's made from high quality full grain leather that is not only extremely durable (ideal for frequently handled items like keys), but will wear beautifully over time. In standard trim, the contour cut case comes in two configurations: black leather with blue contrast stitching or white leather with grey contrast stitching. As a unique add-on for Future Classic customers, we are offering custom stitch options as well.


3D Design Key Case - Type CStandard finish options for the 3D Design Japan key case

3D Design Key Case - Type C with custom stitchThe perfect add-on option for the owner who needs to customize it all

At end, we are incredibly excited to welcome Gates Innovations to our proud and growing catalog of highly curated parts. We believe it to be one of the more impactful "everyday carry" upgrades you can make to your BMW. It's just the beginning of what we plan to offer between our two young and exciting brands.