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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.

2015 Lincoln MKC AWD

By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. October 2014

There are a couple ways to think about luxury vehicles.

One is what the luxury brand signifies. What it stands for in the minds of consumers. What it means. The status it provides to the person who drives one.

The other is what it is. Its physical attributes. What it provides. How it is designed. Engineered. Built. What you are actually getting for your money.

2015 Lincoln MKC

There are vehicles that have a badge that say “luxury” to the world. The vehicle in question, however, may be really not all that luxurious, or at least there are other vehicles that offer equal to or better than amenities and execution yet they come at a non-luxury price.

There are vehicles that have the badge yet the badge doesn’t have the resonance, the signification. Yet the vehicles are well built. Well executed. Full of the expected—or possibly even unexpected—features for the category.

Lincoln is in a zone that sort of splits the middle.

For some people, the “Lincoln” brand has a resonance of luxury. For these people, Lincoln is truly aspirational. However, many of these people are those who are not in a demographic that has too many vehicles left in their future. And Lincoln needs to have a whole new cohort to “think Lincoln.”

2015 Lincoln MKC

For this last set of people, “Lincoln” may be something that they sort-of know is in an upper class, but they really don’t have any strong sense one way or the other. They know what Mercedes and BMW mean. Lexus has been on the scene sufficiently long to gain viability and share of mind. They now know that Audi is a player. And Cadillac has been earning its place at the spreadsheet table with some competitive vehicles for the past few years.

But Lincoln?

It is interesting to note that Lincoln, in its advertising for the MKC, describe it as “The First-Ever Lincoln MKC.”

Which is somewhat puzzling to me. Luxury is in many ways about heritage. It is about earned credibility. So the “first-ever” is a bit puzzling.

I think if I was writing the line, I would use a different modifier. Like “The Remarkable Lincoln MKC.” Because it really is a well-executed vehicle, one that people ought to talk about.

2015 Lincoln MKC

The vehicle that I drove had a base MSRP of $35,595. All-in (including $895 for destination and delivery), it came to $48,770. Which is a non-trivial amount of money to spend on a small sport utility vehicle.

Which brings me back to the physical attributes, to what it provides for the money. And I would say that there is value there. Especially on the interior. Which really matters most.

Lincoln MKC Media Drive

The $49K comes with a bevy of items. A Homeric list. Heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and Bridge of Weir leather. There is a heated steering wheel. Panoramic roof. Pushbutton start and pushbutton shift. Enhanced THX audio. SYNC. And while on the technology route, there is adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. There is lane-keeping assist. There is active park assist (for both getting into a spot parallel and getting out of same).

The wood is wood and open pore. The trim is executed with panache, not just with a Teutonic approach.

The vehicle has a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 285 hp, and as the curb weight of the all-wheel-drive MKC is on the order of 3,963 lb., that is a sufficient amount of power.

The MKC, first or not, is simply well done. It holds its own with products from the luxury marques. But unlike them, Lincoln is back earnings its luxury stripes, and in the case of this vehicle, there is some evident overachievement going on. Which, for the customer, is certainly a good thing.

It is a crossover you buy for what it offers, and what it offers is more in the tangible sense. Lincoln keeps doing vehicles like this, then the non-tangible will come along in some short order.

Selected specs

Engine: 2.3-liter EcoBoost, DOHC, inline four

Horsepower: 285 @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 305 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Steering: Electric power assist

Wheelbase: 105.9 in.

Length: 179.2 in.

Width: 73.4 in.

Height: 65.2 in.

Curb weight: 3,989 lb.

Seating capacity: 5

Passenger volume: 97.9-cu-ft.

Cargo volume behind first row: 53.1 cu. ft.

Cargo volume behind second row: 25.2 cu. ft.

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 18/26/21 mpg

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New Head of Interior Design for Rolls

By: Gary S. Vasilash 30. September 2014

This is a photo that you probably haven’t seen:

i3 inteior 2

That’s the interior of the BMW i3. Generally you see pictures like this:

i3 exterior 1

And this:

i3 exterior

After all, for this electric vehicle, BMW tends to emphasize the fact that there is the “LifeDrive architecture concept,” which means that there is the “Life Module,” which the company points out is the “first-ever mass produced” carbon fiber reinforced plastic passenger cell, and the “Drive Module,” which consists of the 22-kWh, 450-lb., lithium-ion battery, electric drive train, MacPherson strut and five-link rear suspension, all wrapped in a 100% aluminum structure.

But at the proverbial end of the day (or for the entire drive sequence), the driver and the passenger are sitting in the interior.

The interior of the i3 was designed under the direction of Daniel Starke, who was head of BMW Interior Design, BMW i.

Which means not only the i3, but the i8:

2015 BMW i8 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Edition

Yes, again the exterior is the focus. Obviously.

But as of this week, Starke is head of Interior Design for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Starke

Which seems as far away from BMW i as you can imagine.

But perhaps that’s a good thing for Rolls-Royce.

Wraith

Wraith Interior—check out the headliner (!)

If You Have to Ask. . .

By: Gary S. Vasilash 29. September 2014

We’ve heard from the folks at Koenigsegg regarding last week’s listing of expensive cars from Digital Trends, and it turns out that while to Koenigsegg One:1 might not have moved on the list, it actually is a bit more costly.

K One

As we’ve learned: “the actual base price of the Koenigsegg One:1 is actually 2,85 million USD before taxes and options, all of them have ended up costing over 3 million USD.”

So what is it about the car that makes it so special? How about a production program that calls for the production of six vehicles?

Or a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 1 mW of power at 7,500 rpm—as in 1,341 hp?

This is a two-seater with a high-modulus carbon fiber chassis and carbon-fiber body. The whole thing, including half a tank of gas and all of its fluids, weighs just 1,360 kg (2,998 lb.).

Oh, and it goes from 0 to 400 km/h (248.5 mph) in 20 seconds.

Seems like for approximately $3-million you can get a road-hugging rocket ship.

Top 10 Lists: Digital Trends’ “Most Expensive Cars”

By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. September 2014

Full disclosure:

1. We hadn’t heard of Digital Trends, a website that ostensibly covers all manner of gear and gadgets that have something to do with something digital in some way, before looking into top 10 lists

2. We hadn’t heard of some of the cars on this list, even those we ostensibly cover the auto industry. Guess we just don’t cover it sufficiently well at the rarified levels that Digital Trends does. So for all of you OEMs on the list, you can contact us so that we can become sufficiently familiar with your vehicles, as in dropping off the keys at our outpost here in Plymouth.

The Digital Trends “Most Expensive Cars” are, in reverse order (after all, if you started with #1, wouldn’t it be all downhill from there?):

McLaren P1

McLaren P1: the bargain of the bunch

10. McLaren P1: $1.1 million

9. Hennessey Venom GT: $1.1 million

8. Zenvo ST1: $1.2 million

7. Ferrari La Ferrari: $1.3 million

6. Pagani Huayra: $1.3 million

5. Lamborghini Reventon: $1.6 million

4. Koenigsegg One: 1: $2 million

3. Mansory Vivre: Bugatti Veyron: $3.4 million

2. W Motors Lykan Hypersport: $3.4 million

1. Lamborghini Veneno: $4 million

Does the old saw “If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it” still apply in this realm?

April is the Windiest Month

By: Gary S. Vasilash 25. September 2014

Like many auto companies, Honda is working to reduce its environmental impact. For example, it is working toward achieving a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from its U.S. automobile product lineup by 2020, compared to 2000 levels.

But in addition to making sure that its products are more energy efficient and powered, in some cases, by non-traditional fuels (hydrogen, electricity), Honda is applying that same thinking to its manufacturing operations, like the Honda Transmission Mfg. of America plant in Russells Point, Ohio.

Wind turbines at Honda Transmission Mfg. of America

There, it has installed two GE power-producing wind turbines.

This isn’t just a green-washing stunt, whereby it is all about the look and not the result. The company calculated that the two 260-ft tall turbines, with 160-ft blades, would provide approximately 10% of the plant’s energy needs, or some 10,000-megawatt hours (MWH) of electricity annually.

The turbines were installed in January 2014. The company has released information about how well the turbines have done during the first six months of operation, and it turns out that they’ve done better than expected.

Gary Hand, vp of Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, said, “The turbines’ operation has exceeded the projections established during product development.”

The units outperformed expectations for four of the six months. In April, for example, the turbines provided 16.26% of the plant’s energy requirements.

The turbines, incidentally, are owned by ConEdison Solutions, “leading energy services company that provides competitive power supply, renewable energy, sustainability services, and cost-effective energy solutions for commercial, industrial, residential, and government customers.”

Which means that Honda isn’t off the grid. It’s just using less of it.




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