In-vehicle security innovator Console Vault has installed its first safe in an electric vehicle, and company founder Scott Bonvissuto says that he’s excited about the EV category’s future as well as the unique design possibilities they offer.
“One of the things that’s promising with EVs is that you don’t have the same infrastructure,” Bonvissuto says. “You have a lot more space. You have larger compartments. Also, there’s typically a lot more vehicle integration–for example, the lock may be tied to the vehicle’s electronics. It’s definitely more futuristic.”
For its first in-EV safe installation, the company chose a Tesla 3, which shares an interior with the new Tesla Y. The choice may hint at Console Vault’s mass-market ambitions; the “3” is the best-selling EV in the world, while the “Y” claimed top honors in the domestic market last year, according to Automotive News. While Console Vault’s EV safe is presently an aftermarket option, Bonvissuto says that a lot of the company’s focus has shifted towards electric vehicles in general, and OEM products may be announced soon.
Sales of EVs in the U.S. doubled to 656,866 in 2021, though they still represent less than 5% of passenger-vehicle sales. In other countries, like China and France, EVs are already claiming double-digit market share. In Norway, EVs account for an astonishing 65% of all new automobiles sold.
Console Vault got its first big break making in-cabin safes for the country’s top-selling vehicle–the Ford F Series pick-up truck. In July of 2016, at the request of the U.S.’ number two auto manufacturer, Bonvissuto’s company formed an OEM program for Ford’s Super Duty truck line. The company now offers hundreds of in-vehicle safe models for marquees including Toyota, Chevy, Dodge and Subaru, with global annual sales exceeding $15 million dollars.
In April, when Ford launches an electric version of its F-150 called “Lightning,” Bonvissuto says that Console Vault will launch along with it. The Lightning has already proven so popular that, last month, Ford announced a doubling of manufacturing capacity. This has not gone unnoticed by Bonvissuto, who is considering new materials to fit the industry’s newest hit. “When it comes to the EV environment, these vehicles are more sensitive to weight for obvious reasons,” Bonvissuto observes. “So there are alternative materials we’re looking to use to cut the weight down.”
At the moment, all of Console Vault’s safes are all still made from 12-gauge cold-rolled plate steel, an industry standard Bonvissuto calls “old fashioned.” However, the company could substitute steel for composites made of lighter metals like aluminum or perhaps even carbon fiber. What Bonvissuto says they won’t do is use a lighter gauge of steel, as some of its competitors do.
Another upgrade in the works is the safe’s locking mechanism. Presently, in-vehicle safes are protected by a key or combination lock, but Console Vault’s engineers have been developing new options, including an electronic combination, Bluetooth-activated locking and biometric fingerprint recognition. “EVs scream for a more electronic environment,” Bonvissuto says.
EVs, which are typically far more costly than traditional vehicles, also scream for attention from the wrong element. The FBI estimates that about one-third of larceny-thefts involve items taken from cars and last year, in-car theft was the only category that grew more prevalent in 2021–a trend that has driven demand for Console Vault’s product, which protects both valuables and guns.
Thankfully, EVs have a built-in advantage over traditional cars. “One of the nice things about our product is that it installs in the center console, so it’s hidden from view,” he says. “We look at any and all options, and with more storage available in EVs, there will be opportunities to put the safe in other areas that are hidden from view.” Since thefts from vehicles are often “smash-and-grabs,” anything that’s not hidden in plain sight may be overlooked.
To that end, Console Vault has deployed its engineering, mechanical and electrical teams to pre-optimize its car safe for the slew of EVs to come–including, perhaps, its own version of Tesla’s “stealth mode.”
“I think being first out of the gate will be a competitive advantage,” Bonvissuto says. “We’re excited to grow with the entire EV segment.”