When an automaker decides to crowdsource ideas for its product line, it could do worse than canvassing the biggest crowd in the world.

For Volkswagen, the payoff was not about sheet metal; the concepts were not built. Rather, it was in the 119,000 ideas received and 33 million hits garnered to date by the project’s Web site. The three finalists were called the Hover Car, the Music Car and the Smart Key.

The Smart Key is a high-powered key fob that is no mere ignition device, but a robust electronic interface capable of reporting on the car’s systems from a distance — Alarm on? Tank full? — and tapping into an imagined real-time satellite view of the vehicle.

“The creative ideas from the People’s Car Project gives us a valuable insight into the wishes of Chinese drivers,” Simon Loasby, head of design at Volkswagen Group China, said in a media release. “The trend is towards safe cars that can easily navigate overcrowded roads and have a personal, emotional and exciting design.”