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Five for Friday: Five Thoughts About the Auto Industry for September 30, 2011

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
September 30, 2011
3 min. Reading Time

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 September 30, 2011. Let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.

01. OnStar Reverses Changes to Privacy Policy, Won't Be Keeping Tabs on Canceled Subscribers

One of last week's Five Thoughts dealt with recent changes to OnStar's privacy policy that would allow the telematics company to track the movements of cancelled (as well as current) subscribers and then sell that data to the highest bidder. After a firestorm of criticism, including calls from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer that the policy in question should be investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, OnStar has backed down and decided to cut the cord between its tracking centers and the vehicles owned by canceled subscribers once the contract between the two has lapsed.

OnStar expressed regret at not being able to inform former customers about pending recalls for their specific automobiles, or send out time-sensitive information regarding local natural disasters through a dormant connection, but these concerns paled when contrasted against what most GM owners perceived as a major invasion of privacy.


02. Upcoming Porsche 911 To Ply Roads for 14 Years

14 years from the same platform would seem like an eternity - that is to say, if it were any vehicle other than the Porsche 911. The German sport car's design is the product of decades of gradual evolution, with few dramatic changes made to either the vehicle's styling or its overall philosophy. CAR is reporting that the 991 platform used by the latest Porsche 911, and displayed this year in Frankfurt, will form the basis of all versions of the vehicle over the course of the next 14 years. Porsche intends to use the 991 as the spring board from which it will launch Turbo, GT3, Targa, Speedster, Cabriolet and even Hybrid editions of the popular 911, not to mention potential derivatives that could make use of a modified 991 chassis in other market segments.

03. No Cadillac ATS Convertible In The Cards

The launch of the Cadillac ATS is drawing closer, and as reality begins to set in for GM's designers and engineers regarding what is and isn't feasible from a cost and time-to-market perspective fresh reports about the ATS lineup are trickling out at greater rate. GM Inside News has published an article that claims that the compact ATS sedan will no longer be joined by a drop top version, leaving Cadillac without a convertible and narrowing down the number of Cadillac ATS variants.

What's left for Cadillac enthusiasts to look forward to when the ATS eventually debuts in 2012? An ATS coupe is still in the cards, although it is planned to hit the streets three years after the sedan, and an ATS-V high performance model will also join the standard coupe and sedan.


04. Dodge Journey Contest Sparks Controversy

Contests are supposed to be a fun way to get the word out about a specific brand or vehicle, but as Dodge learned this summer with the Dodge Journey "Search Engine for the Real World" hunt, sometimes they can court unexpected controversy. The Dodge Journey contest, which saw three 2012 models of the crossover hidden somewhere in the Midwest awaiting discovery by lucky winners, came to a conclusion when the third and final vehicle was found by Brad Neidy in Oklahoma.

In an unexpected twist, Neidy happens to be an Oklahoma Highway Patrol officer - the same branch of law enforcement which may have been involved in setting up the road closures that were required when Dodge filmed the commercials related to the concealed vehicles. Neidy has so far refused to accept delivery of his prize, and so the 2012 Dodge Journey remains unclaimed while Dodge scours the rulebook to see whether the officer violated the spirit of fair play.

05. Not Wanting To Be Left Out, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Adds Seven-Speed Manual Tranny Of Its Own

Hot on the heels of the revelation that the upcoming next-generation Porsche 911 will offer a seven-speed manual transmission is the news that when the C7 Chevrolet Corvette debuts in 2014 it too will slap a seventh gear on top of its current six-speed gearbox. Inside Line reports that the seventh gear is intended to maximize fuel economy, and that the rest of the transmission's cogs will be reconfigured to improve acceleration.

Autoweek has additional details concerning the redesigned Corvette, including spy photographs that show a longer wheelbase and speculation that the iconic American sports car could feature a smaller, twin-turbo V-8 engine to replace its current 6.2-liter unit.



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