Autofield Blog

Beyond Aluminum

By: Gary S. Vasilash 24. October 2014

OK. Everybody knows all about the 2015 F-150. The aluminum-intensive truck.

For those in the auto industry it is, at the very least, provocative. Possibly exciting.

But that’s not the only material that is ordinarily associated with the aerospace industry that’s come to auto*.

Word from Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is that it has taken a material that it ordinarily uses in aerospace applications and has made it automotive-appropriate.


Specifically, it is using high-temperature nickel-based alloys—materials that exhibit high-temperature and cracking resistance—to produce stamped gaskets.

These so-called “HTA”—for “high temperature alloy”—materials also exhibit a property whereby they can become stronger over time with heat exposure. Consequently, gaskets can be produced for powertrain applications with a thinner gauge and reduced embossment width than would ordinarily be the case.

According to Scott Anderson, product marketing manager at Freudenberg, “Companies have used similar HTA materials in the heavy-duty industry due to the prevalence of turbocharging in high-torque producing diesel engines. Adapting this technology to the automotive market made sense. Smaller engines are running at higher speeds for longer times, and as a consequence, more heat is generated in the engine bay and in the engines exhaust system specifically.”

All of which is to say that cross-fertilization of technologies—from aircraft to earth-moving equipment to auto—is absolutely essential.

The HTA gaskets are produced at a Freudenberg-NOK plant in Necedah, Wisconsin, and shipped to customers globally.

*Auto has long used aluminum for such things as engine blocks and suspension components. But this use of aluminum skins—like those on aircraft—is certainly somewhat different, applications at places like Jaguar Land Rover notwithstanding.

The MV-1 Considered

By: Gary S. Vasilash 23. October 2014

Every now and then you may see something that looks like this rolling along:

MV 1 1

That’s the MV-1, produced by Mobility Ventures, which is a company of AM General. You may recognize AM General as the company that originated the HUMMER.

They know how to produce purpose-built vehicles in their plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, and the MV-1 is a purpose-built vehicle.

According to Mobility Ventures, the MV-1 is “the only purpose-built vehicle that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

MV 1 2

Which is certainly laudable.

Other vehicles that area going to transport people in wheelchairs need retrofits.

One of the interesting things about the MV-1 is that it has some characteristics of the Ford Crown Victoria that has long served in the livery business, particularly when painted yellow. (The black cars were once Lincoln Town Cars, also relegated to the past.)

For one thing, the MV-1 is a body-on-frame vehicle. Pickup trucks are pretty much the only vehicles out there with this robust approach. The Crown Vic was body-on-frame.

The powertrain for the MV-1 is a Ford 4.6-liter V8 and a Ford four-speed automatic.

One might feel somewhat nostalgic.

One might also hope that Mobility Venture people do something about the styling, which seems to share a design language with the folks at Tonka. . .


Art: Automotive & Otherwise

By: Gary S. Vasilash 22. October 2014

Each October in Regent’s Park in London, the Frieze London Art Fair is held. This year, it was last week. So if you’re big on contemporary art and are going to be in the U.K. next year, you might be interested in knowing that the event will be held October 8 to 11.

That said, you may be wondering why we’re talking about a contemporary art event held in the U.K.

Because many automotive designers area quite interested in contemporary art. Some automotive designers even try their hand at it.

To wit:

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, worked with Italian artist Nino Mustica in creating a piece titled Unstoppable Spirit, which was unveiled last week at London’s Southbank Center.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a part of the execution.

Land Rover Art

Gerry McGovern, Nino Mustica, & Unstoppable Spirit in London

Said Mustica, “Unstoppable Spirit is about the fusion between automotive design and contemporary art. As an artist I am able to work in the abstract with full creative freedom, however the Discovery Sport is a piece of industrial design that must be both versatile and beautiful. This work is a fascinating exploration of how these worlds collide and interact.”

“Collide” is not a word that one ordinarily uses when talking about a new vehicle, of course.

Noted McGovern, “Our team at Land Rover understands that art and design are central to the creation of highly desirable vehicles that resonate on an emotional level. I believe art and design enrich people’s lives in all their manifestations.”

Thus this.

Audi Teases. . .Something

By: Gary S. Vasilash 21. October 2014

Audi has teased a concept car that it will be revealing at the LA Auto Show next month with an overhead shot of what could be a crossover, sedan or even a coupe:

Audi LA

Whatever the case, it certainly shows a somewhat more sensuous shape than current models, particularly the way the shoulders are more prominent and a Coke-bottle shape of the roof/cabin.

This concept was created under the direction of Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design, who achieved that position in February.

Lichte, born August 9, 1969, (he’s 45, for those of you who don’t want to do the math) was born in Germany.

He has spent his entire design career with Volkswagen Group. He was a student at Pforzheim University in the transportation design curriculum in 1996 when he joined the company. He was an exterior designer who became head of the Exterior Design Studio 10 years later.

While in that studio, vehicles he was involved with included the Golf 5, 6 and 7, the Passat 6, 7 and 8, the Touareg, and the Phaeton.

Looked at another way, he’s done small and midsize cars, an SUV and a luxury model.

All experiences that should be serving him well at Audi.

Time Passages

By: Gary S. Vasilash 20. October 2014

Quick: What is this car?

LS 1990

The “L” in the oval gives it away as a Lexus.

Indeed, this is the LS 400, the model year 1990 vehicle that went on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 1989.

The “400” in its name went to the point that it has a 4.0-liter engine. The V8 produced 250 hp. The car had a four-speed automatic.

Fast forward 25 years.

LS 2015

This is the 2015 Lexus LS 460.

It, not surprisingly, has a 4.6-liter V8. It produces 386 hp. It has an eight-speed automatic.

Funny how much—visibly, performance-wise—things change in a quarter century.

Will the 2015 look as, um, vintage 25 years hence?

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