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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.

Toyota Transfers Learnings

By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. February 2015

This is the Lexus LFA:


It went out of production a couple years ago, after they’d produced 500 of them—by hand—in the Motomachi Plant in Toyota City.

The LFA is powered by a 4.8-liter V10 engine that produces 553-hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. It has a top speed of 202 mph.

This is the Toyota Mirai:


It went into production a few months ago at the Motomachi Plant in Toyota City.

It is powered by an AC synchronous motor that produces 151 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. It has a top speed of 111 mph.

The LFA runs on premium fuel (95 octane or higher).

The Mirai runs on hydrogen.

Vastly different cars.

Yet the Mirai is being manufactured where the LFA used to be made.

One thing that the two cars do have in common is the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP construction).

On the LFA it is used for the chassis and body work. On the Mirai CFRP is used as the fuel cell stack frame, which includes the solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell and two high-pressure tanks (one 60 liters and the other 62.4 liters; both have a three-layer construction: plastic inner liner, CFRP middle layer for structure, and glass-fiber reinforced plastic outer).

Mirai stack install

Mirai fuel cell system install in Motomachi

Seems that what you learn one place can be deployed at another, even if the two ends seem vastly divergent.

Subaru’s Boxer & More

By: Gary S. Vasilash 25. February 2015

Subaru has been selling cars at such a pace that it seems as though they might have signs on dealerships like the old McDonald’s indicators of the ever-increasing number of burgers sold.

Subaru reported that January was its 38th consecutive month of month-over-month growth.

Subaru Boxer

Last week the company announced that it has produced 15-million of its Boxer engines. The first was used in a Subaru 1000, introduced in 1966.

And as they were being somewhat nostalgic, they pointed out that they’ve produced 14-million “Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive” systems.

The first of these was installed in a Leone, introduced in 1972.


As for that “Beauty of All-Wheel Drive” tagline that they used: Given that car, it probably doesn’t universally apply.

On Rolls’ Latest Announcement

By: Gary S. Vasilash 24. February 2015

Typically, when an OEM is going to come out with a brand new model, the drill is for someone at the company to hold a press conference or simply send out a press release stating that fact.

Oh so déclassé, it seems.


Phantom Metropolitan Collection

Why not send out letters, some of which are hand-delivered by chauffeurs in limos?

Why not, indeed?

That is what Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited did last week, with an “open letter” announcing a new vehicle.

The letter, signed by both Peter Schwarzenbauer, chairman, and Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes, chief executive, described what they’ll be coming out with as:

• A car that offers the luxury of a Rolls-Royce in a vehicle that can cross any terrain

• A car that meets our customers’ highly mobile, contemporary lifestyle expectations

• A Rolls-Royce that is as much about the pioneering, adventurous spirit of Charles Rolls as it is about Sir Henry Royce’s dedication to engineering and innovation

• A car that appropriately reflects Rolls-Royce’s brand promise of effortless luxury

• A high-bodied car, with an all-new aluminium architecture

• A unique new motor car worthy of carrying the Spirit of Ecstasy into the future

(Yes, that’s aluminium, as in aluminum. Yes, the Spirit of Ecstasy is a hood ornament, which isn’t typically associated with crossing any terrain that isn’t, well, smooth.)

Of course, they’re talking about some sort of SUV. Bentley is going to have one. Range Rover is one. Soon it will be impossible to name a company that doesn’t have one.


Bentley Bentayga

While people today don’t associate Rolls with robust and ruddy driving, to assure that they had off-road cred, the company did create press information that included photography like this, which was not taken last week on Boylston Avenue in Boston but on the Pordoi Pass in the Alps in June 1913 (presumably Bostonians are hoping that they still won’t be shoveling come June).


June.  Snow.  A Rolls

It is interesting to note that Charles Stewart Rolls (yes, as in, well, Rolls) was an adventurer, a racing driver, balloonist, and pilot. He was the second person in the U.K. to have a pilot’s license.

Rolls died at age 32, having been thrown from a Wright Flyer (yes, as in the Brothers).

That was back in 1910.

Does off-road credibility and daring-do last for more than a century?

On Engines, Emissions, Apple & More

By: Gary S. Vasilash 23. February 2015

Oliver Schmidt is the general manager of the Engineering & Environmental Office of Volkswagen Group of America.

Which means that Schmidt is deeply involved in powertrains for the activities for the word before the ampersand.

And he’s involved in emissions certification and compliance for the word after.

This week Schmidt will return to Germany, where he will be taking a position in Volkswagen Group in Wolfsburg that will have him dealing with the overall Group’s powertrains.

VW diesel

Volkswagen 2.0-liter TDI diesel

Given the breadth of what they have in their portfolio—various sizes and numbers of cylinders; diesels and gasoline; hybrids and electrics; performance and economy—this is an extensive undertaking.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” Schmidt discusses the opportunities and challenges faced by not just VW, but other OEMs.

And you may be surprised to learn that while there are some people who think that the EPA’s fuel economy standards are simply numbers that some bureaucrats or politicians have plucked from the air, Schmidt says that what is useful when dealing with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board is that the people involved are actually technical.

Meanwhile, he explains, over in Europe, decisions about the emissions regulations (the amount of carbon dioxide emitted over a kilometer) are predicated more on politics than engineering.

Schmidt talks about how engines have become like car models, inasmuch as while engines used to be put in production and were little changed for long periods of time while cars are introduced and refreshed after a few years and replaced after a few more, now engines are being modified more frequently.

How? He cites CNC machine tools as a facilitator.


Kia SPORTSPACE concept

In addition to which, host John McElroy pokes fun at the mayhem that is NASCAR, and he and Dave Zoia of Ward’s and I, along with Schmidt, talk about whether Apple is going to get into the car business, whether station wagons might make a comeback (predicated, in part, by the Kia SPORTSPACE concept that it will be showing at the Geneva Motor Show), and much more on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” which you can see right here:


Extended-Range Electric Cab on Test in London

By: Gary S. Vasilash 20. February 2015

So if London mayor Boris Johnson likes your car is it a good thing?

Apparently the folks at Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive think so, as they quoted Johnson as saying of their Metrocab, taxi, a range-extended electric vehicle, “superb and absolutely beautiful. A masterpiece of British engineering.  The Rolls-Royce of taxis that can do 100 mpg.

It’s not clear how the people at Rolls-Royce would feel about that.


Anyway, the Metrocab has been licensed by Transport for London to operate, on a trial basis, as a London Hackney Carriage, a.k.a., a cab.

The vehicle is powered by two 50-kW motors. There is a lithium-ion polymer battery pack on board; it has a storage capacity of 12.2 kWh. A one-liter gasoline engine acts as a generator to recharge the batteries. There is also regenerative braking, and the vehicle can be plugged in for recharging.

Among the environmental benefits cited for the Metrocab is that it produces <50g/km CO2, which is said to be 75% less than a conventional London cab.

The total range is >560 km (348 miles). The vehicle is rated at 98 mpg on the ECE101 Cycle.

While London does have a congestion charge—a hefty £11.50 per day—according to Transport for London, “Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge when actively licensed with London Taxi and Private Hire (TPH),” so presumably saving on the charge does not contribute to the daily running cost savings of £20 to 40 that’s claimed for the Metrocab.

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