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It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for February 1, 2013. GMC Pro Grade Protection, Honda's Siri integration, a convertible Scion FR-S, Toyota's recall woes, and the Chevrolet Cruze Eco-D - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
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01. GMC Unwraps Free Maintenance For GMC Sierra Buyers
General Motors is hoping to sell of its remaining inventory of 2013 GMC Sierra full-size pickups via the value-added appeal of its new Pro Grade Protection program. Pro Grade Protection consists of two years of free scheduled maintenance for all GMC Sierra 1500 models, including oil filters and oil changes, inspections, and tire rotations for a full two years (or up to 24,000 miles). There is a catch, however: GMC is exclusively offering this particular maintenance program during the month of February, which means that there are only 28 days for buyers to take advantage of Pro Grade Protection. Should the promotion take off, there exists the possibility that it could be extended, or even introduced again later in the year.
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02. Honda To Offer Siri Integration
Just in case you were not sick of hearing about Apple's Siri voice interface, Honda will be integrating the feature as optional equipment on several upcoming models. Only those who already own iPhones will be able to use the Siri system with their Honda, however, which could leave the majority of the Japanese brand's customers out in the cold when it comes to the appeal of this particular piece of equipment. The appeal for Honda in making use of Apple technology is that it avoids the need to develop its own in-depth voice-recognition system in the vein of Ford's Sync. The pitfall is that other car companies are also scheduled to eventually integrate Siri, including BMW, Chrysler, and Toyota, which makes it harder to differentiate products based on this feature.
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03. Convertible Toyota FT-86 On The Way
The Geneva Motor Show this coming March will mark the introduction of the drop-top version of the Toyota GT-86, which is the European and Japanese-market name for the Subaru BRZ / Scion FR-S compact sports coupe. The convertible edition of the GT-86 will presage the same look and feel of the vehicle that will eventually be brought to North America. Toyota is coy about taking an official stance on a release date, but the open version of the Scion FR-S could go on sale in the late months of this year. Toyota has released a computer-generated sketch of the vehicle that indicates it will maintain the two vestigial seats currently found in the coupe, which should help reduce insurance rates for the younger buyer base that the company is courting with this model.
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04. Toyota Recall Nightmare, Part XIX
Much of the buzz surrounding the convertible FT-86 was muted this week by the announcement that Toyota will be recalling more than 1 million vehicles due to significant safety issues. The most serious concern involves 2003-2004 model year Toyota Corolla and Toyota Matrix models that are affected by a fault in their airbag control modules that could lead to this crucial piece of gear failing to deploy during an accidental collision. The module also controls seatbelt pre-tensioners. On top of the 752,000 Corolla and Matrix models involved in this recall are an additional 2006-2012 Lexus IS sedans that are at risk of losing the use of their windshield wipers due to a loose wiper arm nut. One million vehicles may sound like a lot, but in October of 2012 the company recalled 7.4 million automobiles worldwide due to a fire risk.
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05. Diesel Chevrolet Cruze To Be Unveiled In Chicago
It will look almost exactly like any other Chevrolet Cruze currently available, but when the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Eco-D takes its star turn at the Chicago Auto Show next week it will be what's hidden under the hood that makes all the difference. The Cruze Eco-D will feature GM's first turbodiesel passenger car drivetrain in decades, and it will potentially offer as much as 50-mpg during highway driving. Power should hover in the range of 160 horses (backed with just under 270 lb-ft of torque) from a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine, although final details won't be released until the Cruze Eco-D's official unveiling. The Cruze will take on the only other turbodiesel compact sedan outside of the luxury segment in North America - the Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
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