Autofield Blog

Wood By Land and Sea

By: Gary S. Vasilash 24. April 2014

This is ziricote wood:

Lincoln logs

More specifically, it is ziricote wood on the inside of the 2015 Lincoln Navigator, Reserve Package. The Navigator will be going into production late this summer at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

So why the picture of the material that’s being used for door, instrument panel, center console, and steering wheel trim?

Because according to Lincoln, this is the first automotive use of the hardwood found in South America, southern Europe, and northern Africa. Apparently, the wood is generally used for things like yachts.

Think of the lush Navigator as a land yacht, perhaps.

The wood isn’t stained or dyed. There is a thin protective coating only. “Altering the ziricote wood would blemish its beauty,” said Barb Whalen, color and material design manager at Lincoln.

She also pointed out: “You will see a family resemblance from vehicle to vehicle, but because this is a natural product, no two Navigators with the Reserve Package will look exactly the same.”

At least not on the inside.

Lincoln Debuts 2015 Models at Barrett-Jackson Auction

Design a Car for 3D Printing. See It Made Live. (If You Win)

By: Gary S. Vasilash 23. April 2014

While the folks up in Manitoba at KOR EcoLogic are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create the Urbee 2, a wholly 3D-printed vehicle, right now, Local Motors is, this very moment (until May 13, 2014), running, in cooperation with the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge. The winning design will be produced, in full-view, at the IMTS show in Chicago this coming September.

Local motors

Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO, said of the undertaking, “Historically, producing a new vehicle from a new design has represented a significant investment in tooling and a large commitment in time to integrate multiple structures and components. This effort to design and deliver the first co-created vehicle using this digital technology and manufacturing process could change the process and speed in which vehicles are designed and built.”

While the fabrication of the vehicle, which will have a battery-electric drive, will also include “subtractive manufacturing” techniques (i.e., 3D printing is considered “additive manufacturing,” so material removal is consequently “subtractive”), the centerpiece of the live undertaking at McCormick Place in Chicago the build of the vehicle on a BAAM machine—as in “Big Area Additive Manufacturing”—from Cincinnati Inc.

Interested designers ought to head over to Local Motors right now to learn about how to enter. The judges will include the Local Motors Community, as well as people including Bre Pettis, founder of MakerBot, and Doug Woods, president of AMT

And while it might be that having one’s design selected is its own reward, there are cash prizes, so if you need an additional incentive. . . .

Henrik Fisker Returns

By: Gary S. Vasilash 22. April 2014

Remember Henrik Fisker?

The designer who established Fisker Automotive in 2007 to develop and sell highly styled hybrid vehicles? The guy who left the then-increasingly troubled company in 2012, the company that, after producing some 2,500 Karmas, declared bankruptcy in 2013? The company that was purchased by Waxiang Group in 2014, the sae outfit that acquired the bankrupt battery supplier A123, the company whose failure led, in part, to the bankruptcy of Fisker Automotive?

(You can’t make this stuff up.)

Well, Henrik Fisker is back, doing what he does best: Designing things.

Fisker 2

Like this, the Viking Concept, designed for Lauge Jenson, a brand owned by Danish industrialist Anders Kirk Johansen, whose family developed LEGO. Fisker, too, is a Dane.

Fisker said that he thinks the way the tank, seat and rear fender flow together is unique in custom bike design.

The Viking Concept is powered by a 100-hp, 45-degree V-twin engine that provides the 299-kg bike with a top speed of >130 mph. It also meets 2016 Euro IV emissions standards.

Fisker 3

Speaking of the bike, Fisker said, “‘It’s been a dream of mine to design and create a motorcycle for many years and this is the first time I have the freedom to go and do it.

“I hope people like what we have created and that we can make more of them – for sure there’s plenty more to come from this collaboration between myself and Anders.”

We hope that Fisker continues to create such striking designs and leaves the car building to, well, car companies.

Fisker 1

Autos and Execs in NYC

By: Gary S. Vasilash 21. April 2014

Automobility in New York City pretty much seems to be dominated by yellow Ford Escape Hybrids and buses, both municipal and touristic. Sure, there are plenty of private cars and hired cars, too, but they are essentially locked in an endless stream of other cars and triple-parked trucks.

All that said, there is the New York International Auto Show, which has been going on since 1900, when there were more horses and carriages on the streets by an exponent compared to what remain in Central Park (for now).

Because so many industry execs go to the New York Show, “Autoline After Hours” took the opportunity to be there. Sure, there are plenty of places where you can see pictures of the cars that were first shown at the NY Show.

Cars like the Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition.

Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition 

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata.


The 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 Convertible.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The 2015 Nissan Murano.

2015 Nissan Murano

The 2015 BMW X4.


Or the 2015 Kia Sedona.


You can find images of those vehicles in lots of places. In fact, you just saw them.

But we decided to do something more. Something different. Something that would give a sense of the men and women in the industry. So we got executives related to all of those vehicles, and ran a series of quick Q&As with them.

The lineup includes:

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company chief operating officer

Raj Nair, Ford Motor Company group vice president Global Product Development

Moray Callum, Ford Motor company vice president of Design

Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America president and CEO

Harlan Charles, Chevrolet Corvette product marketing manager

Pierre Loing, Nissan North America vice president Product Planning

Alanna Tracey-Bahri, BMW North America product manager, X4

Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America executive vice president of Sales & Marketing

And if that’s not enough, we also talked with Neal Pollack of Yahoo! Autos and John Krafcik, present board member of TrueCar, and once president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America and engineering leader at Ford (and my personal candidate for “Smartest Man in the Auto Industry.” Seriously.)

This is the most informative hour you are likely to spend. What’s more, we save you from dealing with delays at LaGuardia and the infernal traffic throughout the metropolis.



A Lot of Air at Nissan

By: Gary S. Vasilash 18. April 2014

This tubing doesn’t look like much:

Nissan's air leak detection squad

But it really represents just a few feet of the miles of tubing that the Nissan Energy Management Team inspected as they started checking out the compressed air tubing that is used at its manufacturing plants in Smyrna and Decherd, Tennessee, and Canton, Mississippi.

The team was checking for leaks. And they found leaks. In fact, the Nissan Energy Management Team calculated that more than 20% of the compressed air used in the factories was being wasted.

So they plugged the leaks.

As a result, they’ve determined that they saved 11,300 megawatt hours of energy in 2013.

Said John Martin, Nissan senior vice president, Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management and Purchasing: “We saved enough energy to power more than 700 homes for a year, offset the greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 2,800 tons of landfill waste or better yet, to drive the all-electric Nissan LEAF around the earth more than 40,000.”

That tubing looks a little different now, doesn’t it?


« Prev | | Next »

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom