• The Associated Press


New Toyota cars will have up-to-date map and traffic information for electronically determining the quickest routes in an upgrade of network-linking technology now offered mostly in luxury models.

The service, scheduled for rollout next month only for Japan, includes “map on demand,” which constantly updates data about the nation’s roads in navigation equipment through a mobile download, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.

The service, an upgrade of the G-Book services that Toyota started five years ago, will be offered in all new models.

The basic service, G-Book mX, is free but requires a cell phone connection. The driver must buy navigation equipment and pay the phone bill.

The more advanced G-Book mX Pro with an onboard data-transmission device, costs 12,000 yen a year and has extra features such as automatically alerting authorities when an air bag inflates. The first year is complimentary.

In a demonstration to reporters in Tokyo, a new route popped up on the monitor screen, taking into account a just-constructed interchange to shave 10 minutes of driving time to a destination.

Besides constantly updating map data, the movements of cars on the roads, monitored by GPS tracking, also gets transmitted to a computer system so traffic congestion information can in turn be relayed to Toyota cars, officials said.

The new service is more accurate than the electronic route-mapping systems now available, they said, because it has access to information collected from thousands of Toyota cars on the road and map information is updated regularly.

All the world’s automakers offer versions of such services called “telematics.” But they tend to target luxury car owners and aren’t as zealous about delivering the latest updates.

Another feature is a Bluetooth connection for the audio system so drivers can listen to tunes that have been downloaded to their cell phones.

Toyota Executive Vice President Akio Toyoda said a similar service will be offered in China but did not say when. Other overseas plans are still undecided.

People may use other nifty gadgets as pedestrians, but Toyota offers the best products for drivers, Toyoda said.

“Inside the car is a special environment. Your hands are constantly on the steering wheel, and your eyes are on the road,” he said. “We think an automaker possesses the best understanding for such needs.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.