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GM's OnStar Debuts Stolen Vehicle Slowdown

October 9, 2008
Beware auto thieves--you might want to think twice before lifting that '09 Caddy CTS. Or at least hire a 13-year-old computer hacker to ride along with. Today, GM's OnStar announces Stolen Vehicle Slowdown on '09 OnStar-equipped vehicles sold in the United States and Canada, and we can only imagine thieves' panic as the go-pedal stops responding to their right feet. It's probably equal to the pleasure experienced by OnStar employees who, upon direction from law enforcement, get to do a little bit of remote throttle control from command central.

To activate Stolen Vehicle Slowdown (functionality included on all new Generation 8 versions of the OnStar hardware) vehicle owners must notify police of the theft. They may then call OnStar and request Stolen Vehicle Assistance. OnStar will use its GPS satellites to pinpoint the stolen vehicle's location, which they will then provide to the police. Police, once they've deemed the situation safe and controlled, advise the OnStar employees to engage the slowdown process that gradually reduces the throttle opening down to idle. All other vehicle systems remain operable; only the accelerator becomes inactive.

GM cites NHTSA statistics that claim more than 30,000 police chases per year. Of those chases, approximately 300 deaths result. In GM OnStar cars, anyway, high-speed chases will now be an impossibility, and the chances of the stolen car being destroyed are presumably reduced. But only if the owner doesn't mind the electronic intervention; Stolen Vehicle Slowdown may be disabled by vehicle owners (with non-traditional businesses?) if they so desire.--Colin Mathews

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