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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.

Gassing Up With. . .Gas

By: Gary S. Vasilash 3. July 2014

Although there is a considerable amount of talk—here and elsewhere--about electrified vehicles, improvements to conventional internal combustion engines and the overall efficiency and performance of diesels, for some reason, natural gas, both compressed (CNG) and liquefied (LNG), don’t seem to garner quite as much attention. One of the reasons for this is simply that in the passenger car space, you’ve pretty much got one choice in the U.S. market, the Honda Civic.

LNG station

But just as is the case with electric vehicles or even hybrids, there is something to be said about the real benefit to the fleet use of vehicles that are powered by something other than gasoline or diesel fuel because fleets often have pre-determined driving patterns. That is, whether it is a delivery van or a long-haul truck, the drivers know what their routes are in advance of setting out, so they don’t have to have so-called “range anxiety” regarding running out of energy to propel their vehicle as it is planned in advance.

This came to mind when we saw the announcement from Clean Energy Fuels Corp., “the leading provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America” (who knew?), that it has now established a corridor from Los Angeles to Houston with a sufficient number of natural gas fueling stations that will allow truckers to make the run.

The Clean Energy website includes a map of where its available fueling stations are located throughout the U.S. There are concentrations in both the southwest and northeast (and Texas has quite a few), with the rest of the country having slim choices.

Given that there are often intersections with four conventional gas stations at them everywhere, the infrastructure issue goes a long way to explaining the comparative lack of visibility of LNG and CNG as alternative fuels.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe

By: Gary S. Vasilash 2. July 2014

A friend has a 1969 Camaro. Way back when, in the days when cruising Telegraph (for those of us who are Detroit Westsiders; Woodward, as in “Dream Cruise,” was for the Eastsiders) was not only an adolescent obligation but a nearly evolutionary imperative, he had a ’68. Then, he drove the you-know-what out of his car. Today, he has a kit full of polishes and sprays in the trunk, keeping the car pristine for showing it at various Camaro events. Sure, he drives the ’69. But not as a daily driver.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

So I took the ’14 over to his house for him to see. His eyes grew wide, and he rattled off stats associated with the car.

Camaro people are like that.

But my friend is over 60, which begs the question as to whether younger people would be interested in a car like the Camaro SS.

One of my neighbors is in his mid-20s. He drives a Wrangler.

I had him check the car out. The roaring growl emitted from the exhaust was one factor in the car’s appeal to him. Another was the heads-up display. Almost polar opposites.

He was also impressed with what he reckons is a most-reasonable MSRP, $36,855. But having that throaty exhaust added $895 to the sticker—yet the heads-up display is part of the base package.

“I think this is the first GM car I’ve liked in years,” he concluded.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

So the car has legs.

(We’ll assume that if there is traction with those with an age that is measured in single digits, it will be predicated on Transformers viewing.)

There are two potent points about this car. One is the sinister styling, which is based, primarily, on the optional HID headlamps with LED halo ring in the front and LED taillamps around back. Coming or going, this car makes a statement.

And that statement is punctuated by that aforementioned engine rumble. It has a 6.2-liter LS3 V8 that puts out 426 hp @ 5,900 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm. With the TREMEC TR6060 manual six speed, it gets up and goes with alacrity. There are Brembo brakes to take care of the slowing-down and stopping portion of the drive.

(Want to know what the biggest cause of diminished interest by semi-hard-core people will be for muscle cars going forward? Manual transmissions. While both of the people I showed the car to know manuals, they were surprised that the car had one. I must confess that I would have been surprised if it didn’t, but there you go.)

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

One option that is essential in my estimation for the Camaro SS are the Recaro Performance Seats ($1,995), which keeps your seat where it belongs. Even if you don’t throw it around a track (I didn’t), the seats provide comfortable, secure support: You sit in them, not on them, which pretty much tends to be the way seats are in general.

As this is not some sort of throw-back car, it is full of contemporary tech, ranging from power seats to the rear-vision camera; power outlets to steering wheel-mounted controls.

The first Camaro SS appeared in 1967. Forty-seven years ago. This is a Camaro. It is not that Camaro. But the DNA is unmistakable.

Selected specs

Engine: 6.2-liter V8

Horsepower: 426 @ 5,900 rpm

Torque: 420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm

Materials: Aluminum block and heads

Transmission: TREMEC TR6060 six-speed manual

Steering: Electric variable power steering

Wheelbase: 112.3 in.

Length: 190.6 in.

Width: 75.5 in.

Height: 54.2 in.

Seating capacity: 4

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 16/24/19 mpg

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Cash for (Polluting) Clunkers

By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. July 2014

Remember the “Cash for Clunkers” program (officially the Car Allowance Rebate System) from the summer of 2009?

Well, the California Air Resources Board is providing a green spin on this, with an enhancement of its Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP). The objective of EFMP is to scrap out higher-polluting cars and light- and medium-duty trucks.

header_organization 

Said Mary D. Nichols, CARB chairman, “Action taken by the Board today will provide $100-million to directly benefit disadvantaged communities. The funding plan and ARB’s amended ‘car scrap’ program together provide emission reductions for all Californians and financial incentives for those who need it the most.”

Low-income residents with polluting vehicles—before they’re scrapped, they must complete a Smog Check test—will get incentives to buy a used hybrid or other vehicle that gets at least 35 miles per gallon, or funding for a new or used plug-in hybrid. The incentive is as high as $4,500.

In addition to which, the state of California is adding $116-million to provide rebates to purchases of zero and near-zero emissions cars, and is offering $5,000 for those who get a fuel-cell powered vehicle.

My “Autoline After Hours” colleague John McElroy has long contended that California is pretty much working to create a whole class of cars—zero-emissions vehicles—through funding and legislation. Looks like he has more ammo for his argument.

amerimold in The D Sets Attendance Record

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. June 2014

A couple months ago or so, we made a recommendation that you attend amerimold and threw in a free pass and a discount. (OK, it wasn’t entirely altruistic, as the outfit that brings you this and Automotive Design & Production in the ink-on-paper form is the organizer of amerimold.)

amerimold

Roush Mustang at amerimold 2014

Turns out a considerable number of you took advantage of the offer because we’ve gotten an Interoffice Memo here at Autofieldblog HQ that amerimold smashed attendance records from previous events.

And we, of course, attribute this success to you. Naturally, our brethren publications from Gardner Business Media will undoubtedly want to take their share of the credit, too, but seriously, we know it was you.

Should you be thinking ahead to next year, amerimold moves from Novi to Rosemont, Illinois, June 17-18, 2015.

GM Goes Big on Midsize Trucks

By: Gary S. Vasilash 27. June 2014

When GM’s midsized pickups—the 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon—roll out in U.S. markets this fall from the Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant, they will be the biggest thing in the midsize category. The category consists of those two and the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier. While that isn’t a massive segment by any means, it also isn’t something that is trivial.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 2015 Chevy Colorado

 

Last year, according to Autodata, Toyota sold 159,485 Tacomas. By contrast, it sold 112,732 of its full-size Tundra.

Over at Nissan, the number for the Frontier was 62,837. Its full-size pickup, the Titan, had deliveries of just 15,691. Nissan delivered more of its all-electric LEAF: 22,610.

Anyway, back to the midsize trucks.

Looked at from the perspective of length, the GM vehicles will range from 208.2 in. to 224.5 in. The spread for the Tacoma goes from 190.4 in. to 221.3 in. And the Frontier’s length is 205.5 in. to 219.4 in. Clearly, “midsize” is relative.

2015 GMC Canyon All Terrain SLE Extended Cab Short Bed Rear Three Quarter in Cyber Grey - in studio

GMC Colorado

The GM trucks lead in horsepower, too. There will be two engine’s offered, a 2.5-liter I4 that produces 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque.

Over at the Toyota store, there are also two engines. There is a 2.7-liter I4 that produces 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, and a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.

Nissan offers one engine for the Frontier, a 4.0-liter V6 that produces 261 hp and 281 lb-ft of torque.

Bigger and more powerful, that’s for sure. Better? We’ll see.  (But from what we’ve seen and learned, they carefully benchmarked the competition, so odds are in their favor.)

But clearly the GM engineers are betting their approach will gain significant traction in a segment that it has slipped in during the past several years.




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