Autofield Blog

Gary S. Vasilash

Gary S. Vasilash is the founding editor of Automotive Design & Production (AD&P) magazine, a publication established in 1997 by Gardner Publications with the cooperation of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He is responsible for the editorial management and direction of the monthly magazine. Vasilash continues to write a monthly column for AD&P and contributes several stories to each issue.

Vasilash has more than 20 years of experience writing about the automotive industry, best practices and new technologies. His work has appeared in a variety of venues, ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Lightworks, a journal of contemporary art. He has made numerous presentations at a variety of venues ranging from the annual meeting of the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) to the Center for Constructive alternatives at Hillsdale College.

Prior to his present position, Vasilash was editor-in-chief of both Automotive Production and Production magazines—predecessors to AD&P. He joined Cincinnati, Ohio-based Gardner Publications in 1987 as executive editor of Production magazine.

Prior to that, Vasilash had editorial positions with the Rockford Institute and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and a Master of Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is a member of the Automotive Press Association.

Porsche 911: Fast and Efficient

By: Gary S. Vasilash 13. October 2015

Porsche powertrain engineers have been hard at it for the development of what’s under the hoods—I mean decklids—of the new 911 Carrera 4 and 911 Targa 4, four-wheel drive vehicles.

The cars, which will go on sale in Europe in January, feature 3.0-liter, bi-turbocharged six cylinder engines. The engines produce 365 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque.


Then there are “S” models, which have modified turbo compressors, a specific exhaust system, and a differently tuned engine management system. These engines produce 414 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque.

Now it is worth noting that a 911 Carrera 4 with a PDK (dual-clutch transmission) and the Sport Chrono package (which allows driver-selectable setup of vehicle parameters and which includes a “Sport Response Button” that preconditions the engine for maximum acceleration for 20 seconds) can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds (that’s 62 mph) and the S model can do it in 3.8 seconds. Opt for a cabriolet S or 911 Targa 4, and you’re talking 4.0 seconds.

OK. Going fast is one thing.

But even Porsche powertrain engineers have to pay attention to liters per kilometer the same way U.S. powertrain engineers have to eke out miles per gallon.

And that performance notwithstanding, based on the European cycle, the 911 Carrera 4 Cabriolet with PDK gets to 7.9 l/100 km (29.8 mpg) and the 911 Carrera S Cabriolet and 911 Targa 4S, each with PDK, 8.0 l/100 km (29.4 mpg).

Going fast is one thing.  Getting that fuel efficiency is, well, astonishing.

Talking About the Tucson

By: Gary S. Vasilash 12. October 2015

Mike O’Brien, vice president, Corporate & Product Planning, for Hyundai Motor America knows that the compact utility space is not only crowded—with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, and Jeep Cherokee—but that the demand for vehicles of this type are growing as the desire for sedans is decreasing.

MY16 Hyundai Tucson

And he notes that there are a variety of reasons why this is the case. For one, people don’t necessary have as much space to park their vehicles as they once did when there were sprawling suburbs. Some people are living in more urban settings. Some people are living in suburbs where it is more like a condo development than an array of McMansions.

For another, while people used to have more than one type of vehicle in their garages—say a car for everyday use and a van to pack the family off to church on Sunday—this has given way to a situation where they’re doing more with one vehicle, period.

So they’re looking for something that’s compact. They’re looking for something capable.

But there’s one more thing, O’Brien points out on this edition of “Autoline After Hours”: Many people are going from sedans to crossovers, so they expect the same levels of amenities and comforts.

Which leads to a situation wherein someone walks into a dealership and sees a sedan, checks the sticker, then takes a look at a crossover and checks out its price.

Nowadays, they’re pretty close. So the person might think that it makes a whole lot more sense to get something more for their money, which leads to the crossover boom.

O’Brien is accompanied in the studio by the all-new 2016 Tucson, Hyundai’s compact crossover. This, O’Brien explains, is the result of a global product development program. The exterior design comes out of Europe. The interior design was done in California. Production is being performed in Korea.

And that’s one reason why there is an above-segment execution: O’Brien says that in order to meet the market demands in Europe, where the vehicle is at a higher segment level than is ordinarily considered to be the case in the U.S. market, they had to make the Tucson more sophisticated in terms of design and execution.

National Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Day Logo

In addition to that Tucson, there is another that O’Brien talks about: the fuel cell Tucson that they’ve had on the market for more than a year. (The day O’Brien is on the show is October 8, which is sometimes abbreviated 10.08, and it so happens that 1.008 is the atomic weight of hydrogen, so October 8 is now celebrated as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day—perhaps not widely celebrated, but here’s betting that Sheldon Cooper and his friends would be busting out the party hats and streamers.)

O’Brien explains that they think fuel cell vehicles have a bright future thanks in large part to the fact that the technology is ready scalable and consequently suitable for a number of vehicle sizes and architectures.

What’s more, he points out that many auto makers have gotten to the point with their fuel cell developments that it is now mainly a matter of productionizing the technology so that it can be mass produced—the experimenting is over, now it is time for building them.

(Yes, he acknowledges that there needs to be a more extensive hydrogen fueling infrastructure, but when you have the cars, you’ll get the stations.)

O’Brien talks to Richard Truett of Automotive News, Henry Payne of the Detroit News and me on the show.

And then Truett, Payne and I talk about a number of other developments, from the recent experiment in Paris where 30% of the city was car-free for a day to the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which the three of us had to opportunity to drive.

You can see it all here:


How Is a Car Like a Cow?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 9. October 2015

At the recently concluded London Design Festival, there was a concept car from a student at the Royal College of Art, Yi-Wen Tseng, the likes of which is rather unusual.

As Yi-Wen Tseng explained in her artist’s statement, “Our daily lives are filled with the benefits of technological innovation—advanced transportation, electricity devices, or 3D printing. However, many of these are detrimental to the environment, and the situation gets worse as we rely on these products more and more. Technology is also seen as a way to deal with environmental issues, but to the extent where we are replacing nature, rather than working with it. What if we could use potential technologies, not to bypass nature, but to bring us closer to nature?”

cow car

And so she went to work with a 3D printer and developed the “Digestive Car.”

Put simply, she is modeling the fueling of her car on a cow.

Or, as she posited, “the cow’s digestive system is a remarkable feat of nature – an anaerobic powerhouse. What if this organ was replicated in a bio-print, and fashioned into a self-powering vehicle for transport? Could the cow’s digestive system be a vehicle that strikes a balance with nature?”

That’s right: “feed” the car grass, and through processes including rumination and fermentation. . .voila! Fuel.

Presumably there would really need to be a serious catalyst or trap in the exhaust system.

Yi-Wen Tseng acknowledged, “Of course, Digestive Car is a speculative project, relying on great imagination.”


Does the World Need a Range Rover Convertible?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 8. October 2015

If you want a quick read on how well sport utility vehicles are doing versus cars in the U.S., then it is worth taking a look at the numbers for Jaguar Land Rover, as that company clearly has both types of vehicles on offer.

According to numbers from Autodata, in September Jaguar delivered 995 cars in the U.S., down 12.9%. For the year, it has delivered 11,216 units, which is off by 5.28% for the same period in 2014.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Land Rover delivered 5,855 utilities in September, which is up 88.5%. And for the year, it is up 26%, with 48,403 units.

Clearly, sport utilities are the way to go. While Jaguar will be getting one in the not-too-distant future, the folks at Land Rover are going to have a new one out next month.

It is the Range Rover Evoque Convertible.

Yes, convertible.

The company is describing it as “the most capable convertible in the world.”

Shown here is the vehicle undergoing a test at the company’s Eastnor Castle estate in Herefordshire, UK:

Evoque convertible

You’d think that during water fording you might put the top up lest the interior leather get. . .damp.

While they’ll undoubtedly sell some, perhaps they should have spent some time talking to the people at Nissan about its Murano variant.

2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

Alcoa—Not Aluminum This Time

By: Gary S. Vasilash 7. October 2015

When you say “Alcoa” in this industry, the first thought of those in the steel industry probably runs to the 2015 F-150 and then to a word that we can’t use here.

2015 Ford F-150 frame and body

But it is interesting to note that in addition to aluminum sheet for automotive applications, the company makes a number of products that address multi-material fastening, and multi-materials is the direction that automotive construction is going, a direction that the aircraft industry is already taking.

That is, Alcoa signed a contract with Airbus that’s worth about $1-billion for its fastener products.


These fasteners will be used for products including the A350 XWB, the A320neo, and the A330.

Among the fasteners that Alcoa Fastening Systems & Rings produces are blind bolts, blind rivets, latching systems, inserts, studs, bolts, screws, nuts, lockbelt fasteners, pin fastening system, and panel fasteners.

Among the materials that these fasteners are produced with are stainless steel, titanium, and nickel-based superalloys.

All of which is to say that beyond the aforementioned sheet for body panels, it seems like the company is well positioned to putting materials together, as well.

Presumably, there may be some automotive applications in the offing at some point, as well.

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