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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.

How Green Is Auto?

By: Gary S. Vasilash 8. July 2014

When it comes to the environment, automobile companies are probably not as well thought of as other types of companies that cloak themselves in a green mantle. After all, aren’t car companies producers of things that spew all manner of bad things into the environment?

You might think that. And you would be wrong.

It turns out that the auto industry’s good Corporate Citizenship is well understood by many consumers because on the recently released Interbrand Best Global Green Brands report, auto companies dominate in a major way.

2015 Fusion Hybrid 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid

There is a list of 50 global companies listed from categories ranging from Electronics (e.g., Panasonic) to Food (e.g., Danone) to Sporting Goods (e.g., adidas) to Beverages (e.g., Coca-Cola) and even more.

This is essentially a list of name-brand companies, so it is by no means auto-centric.

And here is how Automotive was assessed by Deloitte Consulting, which conducted the survey and crunched the numbers:

1. Ford

2. Toyota

3. Honda

4. Nissan

13. BMW

16. Volkswagen

24. Mercedes-Benz

32. Chevrolet

35. Kia

40. Hyundai

Overall, that’s 20% of the top 50 Green brands in the world.

And it is interesting to note that Ford is #1 this year but was #2 last, changing places with Toyota in both cases. Which is to say that when it comes to being Green, automotive is clearly bright.

Concept Cars of the Year Announced

By: Gary S. Vasilash 7. July 2014

While there is an array of automotive awards given out for everything from the most pet-friendly vehicle to the kind-of-car-you-would-most-like-to-buy if-you-were-as-rich-as-Bill Gates (slight exaggeration. Slight), given our participation on the jury of one award that at the very least ought to be of interest to those of you who are interested in design, we figured we’d bring it to your attention.

The 2014 North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were recently presented. There are two categories, Production Preview Vehicle (a model already announced or planned for production) and the Concept Vehicle (which is, well, a concept).

The winner of the Product Preview Vehicle (selected from a group of finalists that included the Infiniti Q30 , Infiniti Q50, and the VW Passat) is the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013

Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG (X 156) 2013

The winner of the Concept Vehicle (selected from a group of finalists consisting of the Mercedes Benz GT6, Nissan Blade, and Toyota FT-1) is the Cadillac Elmiraj.

CadillacElmirajConceptNYC11.jpg

CadillacElmirajConceptNYC13.jpg

The Elmiraj did so well in the balloting (the jury consists of 27 people from the U.S. and Canada who have more of a passing interest in and knowledge of cars) that it beat all others so that it also took the Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2014 trophy, as well.

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

2013 Cadillac Elmiraj Concept

O, Say Can You See. . .

By: Gary S. Vasilash 4. July 2014

This is Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland:Ft McHenry

It is now part of the National Park Service.

Why the picture?

Well, today here in the U.S. we celebrate the Fourth of July, or Independence Day. That marks the day in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence—from Great Britain—was made.

But Fort McHenry’s significance goes to the War of 1812, the U.S. war with. . .Great Britain.

After the Brits burned down the Capitol and White House in late August, 1814, they sailed north to Baltimore. And proceeded to fire on Fort McHenry for more than 24 hours.

It was witnessed by Francis Scott Key. Which led to him writing a poem that was later set to music, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Which will be sung with gusto throughout the country today.

Who knows: had it all gone wrong, we’d all be driving Jaguars or something today.

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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