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.

Focus Gets Enhanced Stability Control

By: Gary S. Vasilash 13. February 2015

This is a 2015 Ford Focus that is evidently parked:

2015 Ford Focus

However, there are times, when the car is in "D," that things can get rather. . .extreme and lead to a skid which can lead to a spinout.

(Given the surface of where the Focus is located, which is undoubtedly a test track, the driver of that vehicle has been trying to make the car do things that the rest of us never want to experience in our daily driving.)

So Ford engineers have come up with a way to mitigate that, a capability they’re calling “enhanced traditional stability technology.” This, according to Ford, makes the assessment within 100 to 200 milliseconds.

This new feature goes beyond the standard stability control system in the vehicle. The inputs—including car’s speed, steering wheel position, turn rate of the steering wheel—are all used, just as they are in conventional stability control.

But for this enhanced system the information is additionally processed in a way that it heretofore hadn’t been.

Which makes this development all the more clever, in as much as it is one of those unexpected benefits.

That is, Ford engineers used an algorithm that had been developed for the Ford Roll Stability Control system to see how it would affect the ability to control a vehicle from spinning.

And it turned out to be beneficial.

Said David Messih, Ford Brake Controls manager (when a potential skid is detected, brakes are individually applied), “By recognizing scenarios that can lead to a potential loss of driver control before oversteer has developed, the enhanced transitional stability system is setting the recovery process in motion quicker than ever before, resulting in smother, more refined control.”

If you’ve ever been in a car that spins you know that that is absolute understatement.

American Honda Invests $85-m for More MDXes

By: Gary S. Vasilash 12. February 2015

The greatest success that Acura has in the market is its MDX sport utility vehicle.

In 2014, there were five car lines on offer by Acura. The total number of cars sold were 57,297.

Compare that with the number of MDXes sold in 2014: 65,603.

2016 Acura MDX

So American Honda Motor Co. has announced that it is going to be supplementing production of the MDX.

It is presently made in a plant in Lincoln, Alabama. That plant also produces the Honda Pilot SUV and the Honda Odyssey minivan. Next year, the Honda Ridgeline pickup will go back into production there. (It also produces the 3.5-liter, 290-hp V6 engine for the MDX.)

The MDX will continue in Lincoln.

MDX Lineoff

2014 MDX line-off in Lincoln

But Honda is investing $85-million in its East Liberty Plant in Ohio for additional MDX capacity.

This will be $85-million spent on things like welding equipment, conveyors, and tooling.

East Liberty is where the other big-selling Acura, the RDX SUV, is produced. (Last year 44,865 were sold, which is more than twice as many as the best-selling car in the lineup, the TLX, which was at 19,127, but to be fair, that’s not a full year in production, but you get the picture of how popular the Acura SUVs are.)

East Liberty also builds the Honda Crosstour and, more importantly, the Honda CR-V (of which 335,019 were sold last year, a number that’s just shy of the entire Acura division in 2014, 335,686.)

Speaking of the dual-sourcing strategy for the MDX, John Mendel, executive vp of American Honda, said, “This initiative will give us greater flexibility to meet growing customer demand for our Honda and Acura light truck models."

Art of the Bike: Yamaha VMAX Carbon

By: Gary S. Vasilash 11. February 2015

Oftentimes, there is but a fanciful relationship between the name of a vehicle and the reality on the ground.


But that’s not the case with the Yamaha VMAX Carbon.

The special-edition bike’s tank cover, front and rear fenders, and side covers are all produced with carbon fiber.

And while you can’t hear the sound of the 197-hp, 1,679-cc engine, know that there are upswept Akapovic slip-on mufflers for audio accentuation.

Yamaha, incidentally, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original VMAX.

More Than a Midcycle Refresh

By: Gary S. Vasilash 10. February 2015

Up until recently, medium-sized trucks, by and large, tended to stay in production for long periods of time with minor modifications along the way. In some cases, things went on the same for REALLY long periods of time. Consider the Ford Ranger, which, comparatively speaking, underwent few significant changes (and by way of comparison, we could take the Ford F-150 during this same timeframe) from1982 until it went out of production in 2011. (Some people joked that the tooling simply wore out.)



This came to mind when I spotted a piece indicating that Oshkosh Defense received a production contract from the U.S. Army in June 2009 for its Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) all-terrain vehicles (M-ATVs). Oshkosh is signed to provide lifecycle services and support through July 2018.

Unlike medium-sized trucks, these MRAPs (notably, Oshkosh produced more than 8,700 of them in quick order to provide support for the troops) undergo more than potholes and heavy loads. People try to blow them up.

So Oshkosh has a process in place to upgrade and maintain these vehicles.

They have received a contract valued at more than $77-million to “reset” 800 of the MRAPs they produced.

A given vehicle is inspected then repaired, which might include replacing missing parts.

In addition to which, they provide upgrades, or updates, to keep the vehicles up-to-date. For example, there are a underbody improvement kit and an upgraded automatic fire extinguishing system.

So, like a medium-sized truck the M-ATV may look pretty much similar, but unlike a truck, it is kept battle-ready and relevant with significant tech.

Developing the Cadillac ATS-V

By: Gary S. Vasilash 9. February 2015

This is the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V sedan:

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

The model, not yet on the streets yet (it is coming a bit later this year), also comes as a coupe:

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe

The ATS-V, explains Tony Roma, chief engineer of the vehicle (as well as for the CTS-V, the bigger brethren of the ATS-V), is a luxury sedan that can be driven on a daily basis in a comfortable manner. . .or it can go like a bat out of you-know-where on a track, as it offers a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds, and it can hit 189 mph.

Yes, there is a setting that allows you to adjust the vehicle parameters (e.g., steering, suspension, throttle) for taking the car racing; there is a setting that allows you to drive it to the grocery store without feeling as though you are going to end up with bruised kidneys.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

The ATS-V has a V6 under its hood. A hood, incidentally, which is made with carbon fiber, and which has an air-extraction vent that pulls hot air out of the engine compartment and also, Roma explains, helps reduce lift by channeling the air over the roof of the car rather than letting it exit from below.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan

A V6 and 189 mph?

The ATS-V is the first V-vehicle from Cadillac that has a twin-turbo setup. And the turbines within the turbochargers are not your ordinary run-of-the-mill versions, either: they are produced with low-inertia titanium-aluminide. In addition to which, they’ve developed a patent-pending low-volume charge-cooling system that is not only compact, but which, given its location vis-à-vis the turbos, provides maximized boost pressure post-haste.

And if you’ve got a quick-spooling turbo system, then having titanium connecting rods to reduce inertia of the rotating assembly helps, too.

All told, the 3.6-liter, all-aluminum V6 produces 455 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque.

The transmission options are a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual with active rev matching or a HydraMatic 8L90 eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

The power and performance of the rear-drive vehicle necessitated beefing up the basis structure of the car, as in a unique shock tower-to-plenum brace, a strengthened rocker bulkhead, stronger rear cradle-to-rocker braces, and V-braces for the engine compartment. The result of all of this is 25% greater structural stiffness than a non-V ATS.

Roma talks about this and much more on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

John McElroy of Autoline, Greg Gardner of the Detroit Free Press, and I ask Roma about the car and how it was developed. (Yes, they’ve taken it to the Nurburgring.)

In addition to which, McElroy, Gardner and I discuss a variety of other non-ATS subjects, including vehicle sales, where there is a growing preponderance of truck-like vehicles in place of traditional sedans, Super Bowl ads, where there was panelist contention regarding what worked and what didn’t, and the remarkable Nissan GT-R LM NISMO vehicle for Le Mans.


And you can see it all here:



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