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.

The Bentley of Smartphones

By: Gary S. Vasilash 3. July 2015

Although there is an ongoing battle at the corporate level and often a kerfuffle at the individual level between the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy, those two phones are really somewhat trivial compared to the Vertu.

“Vertu?”

Bentley phone

Yes, that’s the phone that can set you back thousands of dollars. A phone that can be gem-encrusted. A phone that doesn’t use Gorilla Glass for its screen but sapphire. (Yes, as in sapphire.)

And it may not be entirely surprising (once you get over the initial shock of seeing the price of a car attached to a smartphone) that Bentley and Vertu have an on-going partnership.

Last week the two companies unveiled the second Vertu for Bentley handset. It was displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England. It will make its way to the U.S. for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. And it will be launched September 18.

The Virtu Signature for Bentley handset is said to have cues drawn from the Bentley Mulsanne Speed. Like a carbon fiber weave pattern on the top of the phone and knurled stainless steel surfaces on the sides. The phone’s case is made from leather sourced from the tannery that Bentley uses. Of course, the case has the Bentley Flying B logo on it—in titanium.

Beyond the object alone, there is service, as well.

Owners of the phone get one year’s complimentary access to Vertu Concierge. With the push of a ruby button (seriously: a ruby button) you can be connected to “a dedicated Lifestyle manager, providing expert assistance designed to meet your every need.”

Or, perhaps, you could simply ask Siri.

Lotus: Pure Michigan

By: Gary S. Vasilash 2. July 2015

One of the leading automotive engineering consultancies in the world is Lotus Engineering. When it comes to things like chassis development and tuning, the firm is second to none.

Evora 400

Lotus Evora 400

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Lotus Engineering’s U.S. facility is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For those of you who weren’t fans of Dora the Explorer or aren’t fans of Big Ten football, Ann Arbor is due west of Detroit.

Lotus, of course, is based in Norfolk, UK, and it has three operations: engineering, sales and racing.

Its U.S. sales operation, Lotus Cars USA, is located in Lawrenceville, Georgia. That, geographically speaking is close to Atlanta. But it is also, geographically speaking, miles away from the U.S. hub of automotive development, which is a whole lot closer to Ann Arbor.

While there are regularly reports of auto companies moving operations south—be it to southern states or even below the border with Mexico, Lotus is making a counter move: it is packing up its belongings and heading north.

Explains Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus: “North America, as the largest sports car market in the world, is important for Lotus, both for model sales and for our engineering consultancy business. By having both of our USA organizations located in Michigan, we shall be within the heartland of the USA automotive sector, where the headquarters of some of the most important, influential and significant automotive manufacturers and suppliers are based. This will reaffirm our presence in the North American market, by providing improved customer service, better technical and consultancy support, while ensuring that we have access to a skills base not found anywhere else in the territory. All of this fits with Lotus developing speedily in North America in years to come.”

The extent to which the company develops in the North American market—where it has just 47 dealer outlets—remains to be seen.

But clearly this organizational consolidation is a move in the right direction.

Audi: To the Moon!

By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. July 2015

The Google Xprize is not about the Google Car, though arguably it does have an automotive aspect to it.

That is, the $30-million competition is about going to the Moon. Yes, an actual space shot.

lunar audi

But that’s only part of it. The competitors must not only get to the surface of the Earth’s satellite, but they have to put a privately funded lunar rover on it.

And this isn’t a matter of demolition derby with the Moon. The lunar rover then must drive around on the surface—at least 500 meters—and transmit high-definition video and images back to the home planet.

First place: $20-million. Second, $5-million.

Which brings us more directly to the auto industry in the form of Audi.

Audi is working with a group of engineers, technicians and scientists who are operating under the whimsical name “Part-Time Scientists.” This is the only German team.

Explains Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Technical Development, “We are pleased to support the project with our know-how in lightweight technology, electronics and robotics.”

In addition, Audi’s Concept Design Studio is undertaking a redesign of the rover, reportedly to “ensure ideal lightweight construction conditions,” probably to make sure it looks cool. After all, it is going to be called the “Audi lunar quattro.”

The aluminum-intensive vehicle is solar powered. It has a maximum speed of 3.6 kmph (2.2 mph).

Takeoff is planned for 2017.

Electrochemical Contest

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. June 2015

Although the number of EV-skeptics in the industry remains larger than one might expect, the commitment by automotive OEMs and suppliers to come up with the ways and means to advance alternative energy sources for vehicle propulsion is significant.

e-Golf

Elements of the VW e-Golf

Case in point: Volkswagen and BASF have announced that they will be awarding prizes for the fourth year running to scientists as part of its “Science Award for Electrochemistry.”

This is open to scientists from around the world and is focused on the development of high-capacity energy storage systems. Among the areas of interest are battery materials, cells, battery systems, production, and recycling.

The total prize money is €100,000, with the first-prize winner receiving €50,000.

While I don’t imagine we have a whole lot of scientists reading this, should you be interested in applying for the “Science Award for Electrochemistry,” you can do so at www.science-award.com . The closing date for entries is July 24, 2015.

Who knows? You could revolutionize mobility.

Lincoln, Luxury & Auto’s Autonomous Future

By: Gary S. Vasilash 29. June 2015

Of all of the vehicles unveiled at the New York International Auto Show this past spring, arguably the one that has more than passing significance is the Lincoln Continental.

Lincoln Continental Concept

Although the car is a concept, it is far more than an idea or fanciful notion, it is more likely a thinly veiled version of what will become production reality as Lincoln works to reestablish itself among the ranks of the global luxury brands.

David Woodhouse is the director of Lincoln Design. He is working with his team to create a different sense of luxury, or at least different in the context that it isn’t about racing proverbial rings around the actual Nurburgring, as seems to be de rigueur for those in that vehicular segment.

Luxury, it seems, in the world of Woodhouse is something that is more sensual, captivating and, well luxurious than 0 to 60 times. (Isn’t it odd that muscle cars and luxury cars seem to be described in similar ways: it is about power and performance, not comfort and splendor.)

Woodhouse talks about Lincoln, the Continental and Luxury writ large on this week’s edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

In addition to host John McElroy and me, Woodhouse also talks with John Manoogian II, who started his career as a designer at Ford, and then spent 32 years at General Motors, where his final position was director of Exterior Design for. . .Cadillac. Yes, Lincoln’s crosstown rival. (Woodhouse acknowledges that one of the things that they’re doing at Lincoln is offering something that Cadillac is not.) Manoogian is currently a visiting professor at the College for Creative Studies.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

In addition to Lincoln, McElroy, Manoogian and I discuss the new Chevy Cruze and Chevy Camaro Convertible, the Alfa Romeo Giulia (Manoogian’s comparison with the Cruze is not to be missed), and Ford’s new electric. . .bicycle.

Giulia

And there is a surprising prediction about the transformation in the auto industry that is to occur in the not-too-distant future as a consequence of autonomy and carsharing. In a sense, for those in the auto industry, the show goes from luxury to dystopia, all in the space of an hour.

So click here and see what we all had to say.




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