UPDATE: Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Not Free: Listed For $150


Key fob in, when available. Key card probably out.

***UPDATE: Tesla had initially told us this key fob would be free to existing owners upon request and provided to new owners with purchase of the car at no charge. It now appears that may not be the case. The fob is currently listed for $150 on Tesla’s site. It doesn’t feature passive entry either. See below and find out more on Tesla’s website here:

You’ll no longer need to rely on the key card, as your smartphone, as well as this key fob, will grant you access to the Tesla Model 3.

The key card’s potential exit started way back in May of this year. In a video posted by Consumer Reports, reviewer Jake Fisher stated that while he found the iPhone application to be reliable, he did not like the key card. Having spoken with Elon Musk, Fisher quoted him as saying:

“We really need to provide a normal key to the customers of the car.”

Consumer Reports wrote in May:

“Currently, the Model 3 does not ship with a conventional key. Instead, owners open and start it using either a smartphone app or a plastic keycard. Musk acknowledged that the keycard was difficult to use and that the automaker would consider providing a key fob to owners.”

It was likely at that same time when work on the Model 3 key fob began. We later came across an FCC filing suggesting the fob was ready. That was followed by images being released by the FCC.

Now, there’s more news to add.

Tesla has confirmed that the key fob will be included with future Model 3 purchases (no exact timeline was provided, aside from “when available“). But the bigger bit of news is that existing Model 3 owners will be able to get the key fob for free upon request. This means that current owners who’ve yearned for a fob will be able to receive one at no cost. Again, no specific timeline has been provided to us in regards to availability, so we suggest you reach out to your Tesla contacts to obtain more details.

Check out more images of the Tesla Model 3 key fob below:

6 photos

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101 Comments on "UPDATE: Tesla Model 3 Key Fob Not Free: Listed For $150"

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I would take it as a free option, but would prefer its size shrunk to the size of a regular USB drive.

USB drives don’t have built in batteries. If you put a battery in there that was small enough to make such a fob, you would be changing it constantly.

True,I forgot that battery part.

You could charge it by plugging it into a USB port…. And seriously, look how small bluetooth headsets are. OK, OK, the batteries only last 12 hours, but you know what I mean. I am in the camp that this key could be 1/2 the size.

Ladies watches have batteries and they are the size of a quarter

They don’t have a wireless component. Look at the battery of any type of remote: RF, Infrared… They all have larger batteries than watch batteries. Wireless comms require more energy.

If a Key Fob uses a piezoelectric switch or two as part of it, it can partially recharge itself every time you click.

Make it into a “kinetic powered” fob… If your watch can handle, so can the fob. Walking to the car should be enough to generate sufficient power.

Not really. My Leaf (and my wife’s Rogue) have a fob that’s only slightly larger than a USB drive and we change the batteries about once every 2 years.

The basic model many (most?) other companies have settled on — keep the fob in your pocket and press a button on/near the door handle or hatch to unlock (door) or open (hatch) it — works extremely well, especially in the winter when you don’t want to screw around with a fob that might be in a pocket underneath a heavy coat. This is one case where having a few buttons is clearly better than going completely buttonless.

This is another one of those why make a change for the sake of being different, same with the missing blindspot monitoring led by the side mirrors.

Actually they do

I could be mistaken, but the shape looks like a miniature model 3?

Yes, that’s the intent. Ditto for the Model S and Model X fobs.

Can you imagine any other manufacturer coming up with an extra item for a car that has been sold according to specs over a year ago and giving it away for free (without a court order making them so)?

Can you imagine any other manufacturer selling a car with an unreliable “key?”

Well, yes. For example, GM sold cars that burst into flames when the key was turned. Over 100 people died in those fires in over a decade after GM knew about the problem, but did nothing in order to save a few cents per ignition switch.
Several European manufacturers used limited sets of key variations in the past, leading to keys that could open one or two out of 10 random cars of the models in question.
But they sell also cars with reliable “keys” that have other issues that can turn out to be minor inconveniences for today’s customer, like going up in flames…
Daimler recalled about half of the 2016 production last year because they could catch fire after starting the engine. It was fixed with a software update (personally, I think some defeat devices were also fixed in that recall).
BMW recalled vehicles that catch fire at random in 2018 (notably, only after a court forced them in South Korea).
VW recalled 700 k vehicles that can catch fire when exposed to light rain.
Ford recalled trucks because the seatbelt retractors can start fires.

We don’t have to imagine that. Several people died as a result of GM’s ignition switch failures, caused in part by keys which were too heavy… failures followed by GM attempting to bury the problem instead of correcting it.



The classic scene from Fight Club, where they calculated recall cost, and compare to a potential settlement cost..

If you are referring to the problem that I am aware of, it had nothing to do with the key being too heavy. It had to do with the catch detent/spring pressure pin in the key cylinder was too weak, and the key would shift out of the “drive” position while driving or when a bump etc happened and by going out of drive, the driving critical systems including power steering would turn off including the functionality of the airbags causing crashes and injuries.

Is the key card unreliable or just inconvenient? Generally swipe cards are very reliable in my experience.
It’s a pity their idea didn’t pan out, I liked the thought of not needing a key fob, hate that extra bulk in my pocket. Will be interesting to see if key card is removed or just another option.

It’s reliable, just a pain to get out your wallet, hold it up to the pillar, then set it in the center console, and then remember not to forget your wallet there when you exit.

My key card works while in my leather wallet. I just hold the wallet to the pillar and I’m in.

Same here. Just hold wallet to the door. I have had very little problem with the phone app. Just walk to the Model 3 and get in.

that is my experience too. The only thing is sometimes it doesn’t immediately recognize me. I incorrectly thought I had to use card but simple touching the handle again a few seconds later gets me right in.

Loving the phone as my key… and having that card as backup in wallet!

Speaking pain of and wallets:

My standard method is to pull out my wallet, hold it to the pillar, car unlocks, put wallet back in pocket, enter car, sit, fasten seat belt, then curse and fume while struggling to get out the wallet again to tap it. (All the while imagining St. Elon with red eyes, horns and a spiky tail)

I for one will punt on the FOB but will get one for the wife as she prefers a FOB.

Same with my wife

Yesssss . . . . . . for the wife.

Do your wives not have phones? The card is mostly for valet. I’ve yet to use it in 2 months of having my model 3.

Wife does have the phone and it is set up/works. She is just used to having a FOB and doesn’t
always have her phone with her for some reason 🙁


Keyless entry and/or start is a stupid idea in every respect (and not Tesla’s fault — they didn’t start the trend). A key you have to insert has a very clear location for it, instead of guessing the locaiton it needs to be swiped at, and a unique location it is stored at as long as the vehicle is On and controlled. No guessing, impossible to forget in a pocket, and the location is standard in all cars.

Maybe how tesla did it, but gm never needs the fob to leave your pocket or purse. Just walk up to the car push the button on the door handle, open the door, push the start button. When exiting the car, push start button, exit car, car auto locks in 8 seconds. Really like that implementation. For my wife the key never leaves her purse.

Tesla did a lot of things right on the tm3, but missed on others. Really wish it would do true one pedal driving like Bolt and leaf v2. After having that I won’t own another car without it.

not sure what you mean by “true one pedal driving”? I actually like the way Tesla did it so will make the same claim about owning another car. Hoping the Leaf v2 is truly better. I test drove one early on and thought I was in an beer can.

That’s just as bad. I consider auto lock/unlock using a fob a horrible feature. What prevents you from locking the car with the fob/keycard/phone inside, or the car reopening because it performed the lock/unlock toggle twice?

I’ve heard lots of cases when a person drove a car knowingly with no fob because their spouse in the passenger seat had one in their pocket/purse. The spouse is dropped of, disppears to the errand/work, and the driver is now stuck, car turns off, and his/her fob is at home…

FWIW, I consider mechanical door locks you can slam close (as commonin the US) just as bad a feature. Locking/unlocking should always be a conscious, symmetrical procedure. A fob for locking/unlocking should have different buttons for locking & unlocking as well.

Phones can run out of battery, get stolen or smashed due a simple fall… No way I want a phone as a primary method to control access to a car (Satnav is fine, because it’s nice-to-have, not an absolute requirement for daily driving).

The Leaf will not let you lock the car if it detects the key inside. Trust me, I know from experience.

Keyless entry is an awesome idea! Just have to be smart about it…they already added the pin for second factor authentication… for those who are worried about it.

Using your phone as the key and having a card backup is genius… I LOVE IT.. Now, I leave the house with 2 things instead of 3.

Will admit though I was in a bit of a picket several months ago when the power went out in my neighborhood and i couldn’t get back in the house …no physical key to the house and couldn’t open the garage door ):

It is reliable…just people don’t want to use it or for some reason, not placing in the right place. I have used it several times in a pinch but keep only as a backup to when I don’t have my phone or the battery died 🙁

I certainly can’t imagine you ever posting something honest here about Tesla starting with you incessant lies here about owning several.

GM made cars that will reliably shut the car off ,leaving you with no control of the car, google the ignition debacle of GM, yes GM knows how to reliably kill its customers.

Do we really want to use GM as a benchmark

What are you talking about.

Looks like you were wrong. We’ll wait for your acknowledgement..

It’s certainly a pleasant surprise! I was expecting Tesla to merely offer it as an option you have to pay extra for.

Which according to the article is what they are doing. Offering it as a pay option.

“Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.” – Fight Club

Update: not free.

Yes, I cancelled back in March, but this is one more thing moving me closer to going for it.

Plus, I finally test drove a Model 3 last weekend. It wasn’t perfect for me, but it was very good.

If you didn’t test drive the Performance model, you should try one more time. Just concentrate on the driving and don’t be too concerned about the center display, it will become normal after the first few days at most.

Aren’t all (official) test drives in the Performance variant?…

No – you have the option to chose Performance or non-Performance AWD. Not sure if all stores stock both, but the store I went had both.

Normal: yes, ideal: no.

If you’re planning on buying the lowest cost Model 3 you can, why would you test drive the most expensive one??? Why not drive the one you propose to buy and evaluate? I don’t understand your logic.

Another Euro point of view

I do not thing logic is part of that plan at all.

In hind site… drive both and then decide.

“It [the center display] will become normal after the first few days at most”. I’ll second that!

After being extremely skeptical about the single screen, it took me about a day to get used to the basics of driving the model 3.
Beyond that, the usual assortment of uncertainties and concerns and “getting the hang of it” with ANY new and different car played out over the ensuing weeks.

Center display – not a problem – trust me! (Oh, wait.That’s what our revered leader would say. O.K. so don’t trust me – just go with it and you’ll be fine).

+1 … for me, I was used to it before getting to the house. Like someone else said here, focus on the drive and you will forget about wanting fancy gauges directly in front of you.

This rumor pushed me over the edge.

Good grief; I drove the base model available today: RWD-LR, black, aero wheels. I’m not interested in AWD, Performance, or Autopilot. The only options that interest me are a different color (blue), and maybe the nicer wheels.

The store had another car available to test drive, and I think it was a P with white interior and the nicer wheels.

As for the base wheels, I like the longer range they offer, but I don’t like their dark color even with the aero shells off. So I’d consider having them painted a silver color and just run with the center T’s on instead of the aero covers, except for long distance driving.

I wonder when third parties will start offering more aesthetically pleasing replacement aero covers…

I had mine powder coated for $600. Opted for the OEM “Bright Silver” which is the same as the factory standard color on the S and X. Center caps and lug nut covers were an extra that I got from Tesla.

I absolutely love my 3D but was a critic of the lack of display early on. Almost canceled because of it. So glad I didn’t. Honestly, my only regret now is NOT getting the Performance model. Mine is quick, but really wished I’d gone all the way now.

I like Tesla’s humility in admitting mistakes and correcting them.

Although having a key fob option certainly is welcome (given everything is bluetooth based, it’s pretty much known Tesla could make one if they ever wanted to), I hope the key card option remains. It’s more convenient to carry around and much cheaper to get spares.

I certainly would want one! A key fob is much more convenient than the key card.. and iphone app is often slow to wake up.

With my wife’s Ford Edge I just open the door and press the button to start. With the phone I have to get the phone out of my pocket and turn it on. With the key card 4 steps

You very clearly don’t understand how its supposed to work. You use EITHER the phone or the keycard. Not both. *If*, and I understand this isn’t consistent for some people, the phone app is working properly, all you do is walk up to the car, open the door, sit down and shift the car into drive. Thats it. Thats fewer steps than your wifes Edge.

correct. I have the setttings such that the car will open/drive as long as you have Bluetooth enabled. Leave phone in pocket and card in wallet (as backup…just in case) and I get into car fine and it starts up fine.

If you change the settings, you don’t have to have the app running to get in/drive the car.

I welcome the Key FOB for the reasons quoted by many below (don’t want to repeat).
I’m used to key FOB for my Camry and it always functions, and it doesn’t weigh a lot.
The more important reason for the key FOB is that summon feature will be enabled in Canada with the Key fob. Stupid rule (I guess) that the Transport Canada needs a key FOB for the summon feature. (I don’t know when the rule was made as this is the first vehicle with the summon feature). Well who can fight with the Govt.

Tesla is the only company to provide things for free without somebody twisting their arms as they are more human and Elon wants people to enjoy his cars rather than just pay and pretend to enjoy.

I’ll take one, but I don’t imagine that I will ever use it… Haven’t had any issues with my phone working as a key.

Agree… Love the phone with card as backup.

Plus I don’t want any more key fobs. Already have one for my wife’s vehicle… DON’T want any more. Its like having a pocket full of physical keys…don’t want that either. Wish both vehicles (and older pickup) were like the M3. That would be awesome not to have to worry if I have the right key in my pocket.

Would prefer something a little smaller, if possible. Also, a photo of it in someone’s hand would be informative.

I can’t wait to be able to walk up to my car and it’s unlocked – and easily open the frunk!

People seems to be confused about the difference between a key and a ignition.

Key operates ignition mechanically.

Key fobs are really just keys that allow you to open doors and turns on power electronically.

not sure I understand. While maybe strictly speaking, they are different… my phone opens the door and powers up the car so I just put in drive and go. No other action required.

I am glad that Tesla is address the problem in such a quick way. Traditional automakers would have insisted their “stupidity” as the way to go and refuses to change until the next model redesign and quietly makes the change. This speed of change is what Tesla brings to the table.

Now, for all you Tesla fans who defended the decision of not having a fob is the way to go, well, time to get a new spin wheel…

Not sure I want a fob. I have never had to take my iPhone X out of my pocket. Every time I walk up to my Model 3 and put my thumb on the door handle it unlocks 100% of the time. I have never used the key card but carry it in my wallet as a backup.

+1 …. long live phone key with wallet card as backup

Broken record…. I LOVE only carrying phone and card in wallet as backup. Not sure why anyone thinkgs that is not the way to go. That said, my wife would like a key fob since that is what she is used to. I would want the keyless entry for it though since that is what her other one does.

The key fob, IMHO, is just another device i would have to carry that ONLY works for that one vehicle.
If TESLA wants to get innovative, create a KEY FOB that works for any TESLA. that will help continue to drive brand loyalty and I then might change my mind when the Pickup comes out …. assuming I can afford it 🙂

I get that some find the phone doesn’t work, or is inconsistent, in which case yay for the Fob. But my phone works all the time with the car, and I can’t imagine going back to having a giant plastic glob in my pocket all the time. So at first I thought – This Is Not For Me. But then these two things: (1) Wife: My wife thinks the whole phone/card thing is ridiculous, always complains and asks why it doesn’t have a fob like her car. So I’ll pick one up if it’s free. (2) Getting Into the Car While It Sits In The Garage: I like to leave my car unlocked in the garage, so I can get into it without needing a key (garage is locked anyway, so that’s defense enough for thievery in my book). But I like the Walkaway/Lock feature, so that’s always on. This means my car is always locked as soon as I walk away from it the garage, and I always have to remember to bring my phone or the card with me down into the garage if I have to get into it for some reason (happens a lot with me).… Read more »

I don’t think your comment about waiting for the app to wake up is correct (at least it isn’t for my Android phone). The Tesla app always has the ‘key’ functionality running in the background even when the app isn’t running. There is a notification message available, even if your phone is locked (by tapping the power button or swiping down from the top), that indicates whether or not the key is connected to your car. If you are in range and it is connected, you can tap the little carot (near the top by the logo) and it brings up three options to 1) unlock the car, or open the 2) trunk or 3) frunk. This can be done just about as quickly as pushing buttons on a fob. Something for you to try.

how do i get one of the key fobs for my Tesla model 3

I think you pay for it, then they will send you one. Not looking like it’s free after all . . . .

log into your tesla account… or simply tesla website … https://shop.tesla.com/us/en/category/vehicle-accessories/model-3.html
They are sold out currently so keep checking back. Be advised that they do not support Passive Entry however. That is what is keeping me from getting one for my wife.

With the most recent update in my 3, I have the option for a Fob, BUT it says they’re “available for purchase”. Not Free.

I always thought it a little odd that this article had no cite to support the assertion that Tesla had indicated Fobs would be free to not only new owners but pre-existing owners.

I like the idea of getting a free Fob, but now it’s seeming like that’s not going to happen . . .

Does anyone know how much it is to get one of those encrypted key Fobs for the S?

What about new ones? The new encrypted ones I mean.

I always though that German brands had ridiculous price tags for every little extra. 150 USD for a key that comes standard with every other budget car ?!?

Does it not have any buttons?

Q1 2019 Breaking News…..

Tesla Model 3 fob outsells all automotive fobs produced globally. Other manufacturers follow trend and make their fobs an additional cost item. Fob sells ensure Tesla ‘profitability’ for two consecutive quarters.

New Tesla chairman given credit for industry leading approach to vehicle access.

Tesla innovation personified….

Another switcher-roo from Tesla. Elon needs to pad that cash balance! Lol

In other news, GM’s stock is really taking off..

Count me as unusual. I love the phone key. Since I got my Pixel 3 it has worked flawlessly. And I hope they keep the key card. I’d much rather have the backup key fit in my wallet than have to carry around a key fob again.


Phone doesn’t work perfect but I still love having that as the key with the Wallet Card as a backup.
Add Passive Entry for FOB and will buy for wife…no questions asked:)

Editorial request:
When publishing a relevant update like this, it should be a separate, new, article that links to the previous one. It’s impossible to make sense out of the comments now, because half of them were written a month ago, with the assumption the new fob will be retroactively free, whereas the ones written now are mostly responding to the news there’ll be a charge for it. Very confusing, given the many new commenters responding to 1-month-old posts with different and assumptions.

Incidentally, the updated article is still unclear on whether new model 3s get the fob as standard — according to Tesla’s site, it looks like they don’t.

I ordered a key fob for $150 (under protest) after I stood in pouring rain with neither my phone nor my key card working. The phone is an LG V30 and has had problems since day one. Obviously, for those whose phones have worked without problems there is no need to buy a fob but I can’t help feeling that Tesla could have been a bit less greedy for those of us who do have problems.

I could be wrong, but don’t believe the phone will work without the key card, you can only add the same number of phones as the number of key cards programed in the car.