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.

Gesturing Like a Magician for Infotainment

By: Gary S. Vasilash 11. September 2015

Those of us who are partisans of knobs, sliders and switches for controlling functions on our instrument panels may have suffered another blow.


Word from a British company, Ultrahaptics, which describes itself as “the leading developer of ultrasonic free-space haptic technology,” is that it is working with Jaguar Land Rover on the potential development of a “mid-air touch system for its Predictive Infotainment Screen.”

Said another way, this means that the driver (or presumably the passenger, as well) will be able to reach toward the screen and make gestures without touching anything, yet attain the sought result (e.g., volume increased).

However, through the use of ultrasound and the tracking of the driver’s hand in space, the driver feels as though a knob is being turned even though nothing is being physically touched.

Safety is a prime motivator behind the development of this technology.

Creepy is a way that some of us might describe it.

LEAF Goes Farther

By: Gary S. Vasilash 10. September 2015

One of the ostensible consequences of reduced gasoline prices in the U.S. is a reduction in the number of alternatively powered vehicle sales. After all, if gas is cheap, then thinking about, say, an electric vehicle isn’t necessarily as compelling as it might otherwise be, such as when gas is bumping up toward $4.00 per gallon, not flirting with $2.00

For example, Nissan LEAF sales are, according to Autodata, down 34.6% through August year-over-year, to a total of 12,383.

2016 Nissan LEAF

However, there is also the argument that after the early-adopters and environmentally sensitive buyers have bought their LEAFs, regular people might be a little skittish about not necessarily having the sort of range that they’d like.

So for 2016 Nissan is addressing that concern by providing a 30-kWh battery, in addition to the 24-kWh battery that it presently has available.

The 24-kWh battery has an EPA-estimated range of 84 miles.

The 300-kWh battery bumps that up by 27%, to 107 miles.

Which is a huge difference when you’re keeping an eye of that battery meter.

The powertrain remains the same, a 80-kW AC synchronous motor that generates (a word that actually is appropriate in this EV context) 107 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque (and if you’ve never had the opportunity to drive an EV, know that you have that torque from the proverbial get-go, so environmental is not synonymous with poky, anemic or otherwise plodding.)

Said Andrew Speaker, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle (EV) Sales & Marketing, "Since Nissan LEAF launched in December 2010, we've become the global leaders in electric vehicle (EV) sales with an all-electric car specifically designed for the mass market. We know that to maintain that leadership, we must continue developing battery technology that strikes that ideal balance between capacity, packaging, durability and affordability."

(As for the latter characteristic: taking into account a $7,500 federal tax credit, you can get into a 2016 LEAF S (with the smaller battery) for just $21,510, not including the $850 for destination and handling.)

Michelin Challenge Design Winners

By: Gary S. Vasilash 9. September 2015

Michelin is, for obvious reasons, interested in the future of mobility—or of making sure that mobility has a future. After all, chances are good that until we get Star Trek-like transporters or move to Venice, we’re going to be rolling on tires of some sort.

The winners of the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design—judged by Stewart Reed of Art Center, Nick Malachowski of Fiat Chrysler, Dave Marek of Acura, Rich Plavetich of Nissan Design America, Frank Saucedo of GM Advanced Design, Thomas Sycha of BMW, and Freeman Thomas of Ford—have been announced.

The judges went through the work of more than 875 registrants from 68 countries to come up with 14 winning designs.

Taking first place were Rajshekhar Dass, Abu Huraira Shaikh, Sunny Duseja, Joji Isaac, Saksham Karunakar, and Tajeshwar Kaul of Pune, India, for their Google Community Vehicle:

Michelin 1

Second went to Edgar Andres Sarmiento Garcia of Bogota, Colombia, for Arriero:

Michelin 2

And third place was awarded to WooSung Lee and Chan Yeop Jeong of Gyeongsan-si, South Korea, for their Bamboo Recumbent:

Michelin 3

Congratulations to the winners, as well as to all who participated.

(In case you’re wondering, the other 11 winners are Nathan Allen of California; M.Y. Alief Samboro and Agri Bisono of Malang, Indonesia; Sergio Botero of Medellin, Colombia; Nicholas Lee Dunderdale of the United Kingdom; Ryan Ebbers of Newmarket, Ontario; Mike Lai, Joe Wu and Johnny Li of Taipei, Taiwan; Hung-Ju Lee of Taiwan; Conner Macfarlane and Collin Lafayette of Oregon and California (respectively); Armando Mercado of Mexico City, Mexico; Marin Myftiu, Hussain Almossawi and Huracan Motors of Tirana, Albania; Manama, Bahrain; and Venice, Italy (respectively); and Arkadiusz Stoklosa, Michal Maciukiewicz and Thomasz Kwolek of Tarnobrzeg, Krakow and Mielec, Poland. All of these people give us encouragement for what will possibly be an exceedingly clever future.)

A City for Autonomy

By: Gary S. Vasilash 8. September 2015

There’s a city on 32 acres in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Specifically, on the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex.


The city has roads with the attendant signs, signals, sidewalks, and intersections. There are benches and buildings*. There are street lights and construction barriers.

While Peter Sweatman, director of the Mobility Transportation Center (MTC), says that Mcity streets don’t have any potholes (which is rather astonishing for anyone who is at all familiar with the roads in Michigan), there are concrete, asphalt, brick, and dirt.

The rational for Mcity can be discerned by looking at a list of the 15 MTC Leadership Circle member companies, companies that are investing $1-million over three years (in addition to 33 affiliates, kicking in $150,000 each):

  • Delphi Automotive
  • DENSO Corp.
  • Econolite Group
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Honda
  • Iteris
  • Navistar
  • Nissan
  • Qualcomm
  • Robert Bosch
  • State Farm
  • Toyota
  • Verizon
  • Xerox

Yes, as you might discern from the list, Mcity, where there are no people, is all about the development of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Sweatman explains not only how these technologies are being developed, but some of the issues—some of which are organizational, legal and technical—related to the road to autonomy on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

Sweatman talks to host John McElory; Doron Levin, host of “In the Driver’s Seat” on SiriusXM channel 121; and me.

In addition to which, the three of us talk about some of the potential reasons behind why Sergio Marchionne wants to hook up with General Motors, take a look at the 2016 Lexus RX, and discuss the phenomenon that is Tesla Motors. And, of course, there’s more.

*Well, they’re buildings sort of like those built for film sets: all front and no back.


Working Ford Tough

By: Gary S. Vasilash 7. September 2015

In August, Ford had a rather impressive month when it came to F-Series sales, with 71,332 deliveries, the most since 2006. (Clearly, the company is getting its inventory pipeline flowing, something that it has been working on since the launch of the aluminum-intensive pickup.)

Certainly, the availability of trims like the King Ranch and the Platinum, which are more highly refined, more technically contented, and more comfortable than many a man cave, helps in sales.

1939 Ford Cab Over Engine Dump Truck

1939 Ford truck.  How cool is that oval grille?

But there are still a whole lot of people for whom a pickup truck is, at the start of the day, at the end of the day, a truck: something that helps get their job done.

As today is Labor Day in the U.S., Ford has pointed out a variety of projects over the years that its trucks have been involved in.

This includes the Hoover Dam. Construction began in 1931. Ford calculates that in order to build the massive structure, 5.5-million barrels of cement, 5-million cubic yards of concrete masonry, 15-million pounds of hydraulic equipment, 40 million pounds of electrical equipment, 20-million pounds of gates and valves, and 30-million pounds of reinforcing steel had to be moved. (Presumably not all of it with Fords, but you can be sure much of it was.)

On this Labor Day, let’s recognize those who do the hard work that we sometimes take for granted.

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