Automakers and suppliers are turning to radio frequency identification technology to track cars and the containers used to ship car parts.
The technology, referred to as RFID, uses radio waves to identify items.
Large retailers such as Wal-Mart have embraced the technology. But the auto industry is the single largest user of RFID, according to the Automotive Industry Action Group.
Here's how the technology works: Tags containing a microchip and short-range antenna are placed on or in an object, such as a shipping container or car. Someone looking for that item uses a handheld computer, which sends radio waves that are picked up by the tag.
Volkswagen AG has used the technology since 2000 at its Autostadt complex in Wolfsburg, Germany. The assembly plant-theme park has more than 10,000 vehicles on display.
Many customers visit Autostadt to pick up their cars after the vehicles roll off a nearby assembly line.