In-car internet takes to the road in Japan

Japanese car makers are offering internet access on some models, allowing drivers to get in-car information on everything from traffic jams to sushi.

US companies have promised web access this year, but Toyota, Honda and Nissan already have the service, though Nissan has no plans to introduce it in the UK.

In Japan, much of the infrastructure needed is already in place, as five million Japanese drivers use satellite navigation systems, via which the internet service will operate.

In Toyota’s Monet system a female voice delivers information over the car’s speakers. Monet can also understand spoken commands, such as `e-mail’ and `sushi’. The system has 10,000 users and currently costs $5.50 (£3.66) a month, though it will soon be offered free.

Nissan’s system, Compass Link, costs $23 a month, Several thousand luxury car owners have signed up. Honda already offers its Internavi service free and the system has 30,000 users.

None of the new cyber cars needs a keyboard. Drivers move on-screen cursors with steering wheel buttons. As yet, none of the services have made a profit.

Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd. and licensors