Fall in love with the madness of the Nürburgring 24-hour race

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Nurburgring 24 Intervals video

We like the 24 Hours of Le Mans just fine. With the world’s manufacturers in attendance and a varied field of classes and cars circling a high-speed circuit that’s partially hewn from public roads, the appeal of the crown jewel of endurance racing is obvious. But, if you’re tired of all the Le Mans love, there is another 24-hour race that is arguably more exciting and more extreme – we’re talking the Nürburgring.

While the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans featured a 54-car field, the 2014 Nürburgring 24 grid consisted of 165 cars (like Le Mans, each team has three to four drivers). Then there are the tracks themselves – the Circuit de la Sarthe is a relatively flat, 38-turn, 8.46-mile circuit that’s famous for its high speeds, while the N24 runs on the much longer, twister Nordschleife and GP courses. Also, the fans at the N24 are utterly mad. Evo Australia said the Ring’s fans make the rowdiest spectators at the legendarily wild Bathurst 1000 look like “a church picnic” (when the Aussies praise your partying, you’re doing something right).

There’s a lot more that makes the N24 one of the world’s most fascinating races, although we simply don’t have room for it here (that Evo list can fill in more blanks). Still, by now, you should be a big fan of Germany’s answer to Le Mans. Unfortunately, you’re going to be left waiting a bit, as the 2015 race is still about nine months away. Whittle away at least a tiny portion of that time by checking out this truly amazing video, shot at this year’s race. There’s plenty of beautiful slow-motion and time-lapse videography at work, but it should do a good job of helping you understand the madness that is the Nürburgring 24 (and it will make you want to roast a pig in an engine bay).

Take a look.

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Fall in love with the madness of the Nürburgring 24-hour race originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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What you missed on 8.20.14

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Daily U-Turn

2015 Chevy Corvette Stingray automaticWe test the Chevy Corvette’s new automatic

We tend to prefer our cars with honest-to-goodness manual transmissions. You know, the ones that require a third pedal down by the gas and brake pedals. A clutch, ya know? Turns out most Americans disagree with us, even the ones who are buying Corvettes. We know, shocking. Still, after sampling the latest eight-speed automatic from General Motors in the Corvette Stingray, we’re happy to report that those who don’t want to shift gears are in better shape than ever before.

Dodge Viper SRT engine emblemWill the Viper get a supercharged V10 engine?

Know what’s interesting about the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models? Besides the fact that they have 707 horsepower, that is? It’s that the duo are considerably more powerful than the Viper, that snake-skinned halo car sitting atop the Chrysler portfolio as its top performance machine. But how can it be the top performer with an engine putting out less ponies? Good question. Perhaps a supercharger is the answer.

Hyundai hybrid Prius-fighter spy shotHyundai spotted testing a Prius-fighting hybrid

There can be no doubt of Toyota’s hybrid supremacy. When it comes to eke the greatest fuel efficiency out of a gasoline engine/electric motor combo, the boffins at Toyota do it better than any other, with the Prius sitting atop the sales heap standing as proof. But what’s this? Is Hyundai testing a standalone hybrid machine to put some pressure on Toyota’s hybrid dominance?

Top Stories

What you missed on 8.20.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Thieves still love older Hondas and pickups most, says NICB [w/video]

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1996 Honda Accord

No one wants to have their car stolen, but a new study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau has some bad news for older Honda owners and pickup drivers. Fortunately, it has better news for drivers overall. The group is reporting that according to preliminary data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thefts were down 3.2 percent in 2013 (versus 2012) to fewer than 700,000 cars. That’s the lowest figure since 1967. That’s also less than half of the peak of over 1.66 million thefts in 1991. “The drop in thefts is good news for all of us,” says NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. “But it still amounts to a vehicle being stolen every 45 seconds and losses of over $4 billion a year.”

Honda drivers might not find it such good news with older Accord and Civic models topping this year’s theft study. Toyota and Dodge can’t really celebrate, either, with two models each on the list, as well. Overall, this year’s list was split evenly between foreign and domestic models, which were mostly pickups.

The 10 most likely vehicles to be stolen in 2013 were:

  1. Honda Accord – 53,995
  2. Honda Civic – 45,001
  3. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) – 27,809
  4. Ford Pickup (Full Size) – 26,494
  5. Toyota Camry – 14,420
  6. Dodge Pickup (Full Size) – 11,347
  7. Dodge Caravan – 10,911
  8. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee – 9,272
  9. Toyota Corolla – 9,010
  10. Nissan Altima – 8,892

Those numbers don’t exactly tell the whole story, though. First, the full-size pickup figures incorporate half-ton and larger models. Also, most of the cars stolen aren’t exactly the newest vehicles on the road. For example, with the Accord, the most popular one among thieves was the 1996 model year (pictured above) with 8,166 taken, versus 276 from the 2013 model year.

If you want to dig a little deeper or see which 2013 model year cars were pilfered most in 2013, scroll down to check out the NICB’s release about the study, along with a video telling more about the data.

Continue reading Thieves still love older Hondas and pickups most, says NICB [w/video]

Thieves still love older Hondas and pickups most, says NICB [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Should self-driving cars be equipped with adjustable ethics?

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Nissan Leaf autonomous car, front three-quarter view.

Autonomous cars are piloting their way into the wide philosophical sea of ethics. Right now the autonomous cars are unaware of this because the driver’s will always comes first, but when we start getting cars that can overrule commands or choose a particular ethical outcome either without or in spite of driver input, we’ll have a lot of decisions to make. Which means we have a lot of decisions to start considering right now.

Patick Lin considers some of them in a piece in Wired, starting with the trolley problem – whether a person who has control of a runaway trolley should let it kill five people tied to the track without intervention, or should pull a lever so that only one person on another track is killed. From there, he wonders about the possibility of fixed ethics settings, created by manufacturers, versus user-adjustable ethics settings that, for example, allow a driver to prioritize his own safety over others, or prioritize the safety of children over that of the elderly.

Lin admits that the examples are outrageous in order to stress the point of the question. Still, it’s worth a read because we already have cars that can make driving decisions, and it might not be long before “Five-Mode Adjustable Prime Directive” shows up on the options sheet. Head over to Wired to read the full piece.

Should self-driving cars be equipped with adjustable ethics? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine

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DSC01779

The ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into price fixing in the automotive industry has nabbed one more company breaking the law. Japanese parts giant NGK Spark Plug Company agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of pricing fixing and bid rigging in the in the US District Court in Detroit. Its punishment is a $52.1 million criminal fine and to continue to cooperate with the DOJ’s sleuthing into the problem.

According to the DOJ, NGK conspired to fix prices on spark plugs, standard oxygen sensors, and air fuel ratio sensors on vehicles from major automakers in the US, including the former DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Toyota, in a scheme that ran from at least January 2000 to July 2011. The charge claimed that the company and its co-conspirators held meetings where they agreed on bids and price quotes that were submitted to the automakers.

With the latest plea, the DOJ has caught 28 companies and 26 executives for price-fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, and they have collected $2.4 billion in criminal fines. In 2013, the feds brought nine Japanese suppliers down at once, to collect $740 million. Scroll down to read the DOJ’s complete announcement of the case.

Continue reading Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine

Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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