Japan plans car equivalent of Windows OS

Software for future cars to be increasingly lucrative market

It's not always obvious because we don't directly interface with it, but even the cars we drive have their own software these days, which is why a group of Japanese companies are putting their heads together to create the equivalent of Windows to dominate the automotive arena.

The scheme, sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Education, Trade and Industry ( METI ), will see Toyota, Nissan, Honda and others collaborate to develop a car operating system they hope will become the de-facto standard worldwide.

Money driven

Together, the companies involved form JasPar , or the Japan Automotive Software Platform Architecture. The fact that METI is stumping up ¥1 billion (£4.2 million) to support the project in the next fiscal year underlines how valuable the automotive software market is expected to become in the near future.

Currently, OSEK - from the German company Bosch - rules the roost when it comes to the car operating systems needed to ensure the increasing number of electronic components in a vehicle speak each other's language. These include everything from fuel injection to braking systems.

Both parties will face competition from a European group, including BMW, that is working on its own next-generation car OS for testing next year.