Autofield Blog

Black Friday

By: Gary S. Vasilash 27. November 2015

Today, here in the United States, it is “Black Friday.”

This has nothing to do with the horrible day two weeks ago in Paris.

It is called “Black Friday” because the amount of pre-holiday shopping that is done today is so massive that the store proprietors should be “in the black” financially.

1908 Model T

(Come next Monday, you’ll probably wonder why your pages may seem to take so long to load when you’re on line. It’s because the 30th is known as “Cyber Monday,” when a multitude of people take to their keyboards to do the shopping that they didn’t do physically on the 27th.)

So thinking in terms of what is quintessentially automotive and quintessentially black in honor of the day, we bring you the Ford Model T.

It’s as simple as that.

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Holiday Tips

By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. November 2015

Although the holiday season is meant to be a time of joy as we visit with family and friends, some of whom are distant and so require a road trip in order to see them, it is also the case that there can be considerable levels of stress and consequent ill-manners associated with said travel.

So Ford has contacted The Emily Post Institute in order to come up with some tips that can make at least the travel a bit more civil.


This image is from, the go-to source for turkey-related topics.  Your bird may not look like that, but. . . .

So for those of you who are in the U.S. and are about to set out on Thanksgiving travel, he are some recommendations (as absurd as some of them may seem):

  • Use the remote to be sure that the doors are unlocked before anyone reaches for them. And if it is cold outside, preheat the interior of the vehicle.
  • Point out all of the features of your vehicle that your passengers may avail themselves of during the journey, from power ports to USB plugs.
  • Think about the in-car entertainment.
  • If you are the passenger, you might do what you can to assist the driver before the trip (lugging bags), during the trip (enjoying the aforementioned entertainment) and after the trip (maybe not a tip, per se, but offer to kick in for the gas, and given the low price of gas, a few bucks can go a long way).
  • And speaking of being the passenger, should you be in the front seat, and should you have all had plenty of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings, chances are everyone may feel a bit dozy, so it is your obligation to make sure that the driver is sufficiently aware and awake for safety. This brings us back to the tip about the in-car entertainment: This may be just the time when you cue up something like Blizzard of Ozz and let “Crazy Train” rip.

Happy Holidays!

Lighten Up

By: Gary S. Vasilash 25. November 2015

This is the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster:

ombra 002

We’re running that picture not only because it is. . . well just look at it.


But for another reason, too.

This is the monocouque of the Lamborghini Aventador:

Ginevra 2011 - Una monoscocca in carbonio per la nuova Lamborghini V12 – senza mezze misure  Una scocca come guscio unico in fibra di carbonio  Costruita in Lamborghini con processo brevettato per Aventador Photo Guizzardi Umberto tutti i diritti Automobili Lamborghini
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 11 febbraio 2011

That is a single piece that combines the cockpit, floor and roof in a single structure. A single carbon fiber structure. The whole thing weighs just 147.5 kg, but for those of us who aren’t in Italy, where the metric system holds sway, that’s just 325 lb.

The reason that we’re running these pictures has to do with composites.

As in an event that you may be interested in attending next month (December 8-10) in Knoxville, Carbon Fiber 2015, which is being put on by our sibling CompositesWorld.

Lamborghini has established something of a leadership position in making vehicles with composite technology. The LP 700-4 Roadster weighs just 3,362 lb. It also has a V12 engine, which allows the car to run up to 217 mph (0 to 62 mph in 3 seconds)—not that you would.

Of course, the ordinary run of vehicle manufacturers are looking at carbon fiber technology not to go like the proverbial bat-out-of-hell, but in order to reduce overall mass, thereby achieving greater fuel efficiency.

Anyway, there is that conference that’s going on next month where you can learn about the technology.

And the publisher of CompositesWorld is providing a discount for those of you who read this. Use the code “ADPDEAL” when registering and he’ll lighten the price by $150.

According to Lamborghini, the LP 700-4 has a combined fuel economy rating, based on the European driving cycle, of 16 liters/100 km. That’s 14.7 mpg.

In a world where the CAFE regulations are going to be looking for 54.5 mpg by 2025, things like that Lambo are probably going to become even more rare than they are now.

Presumably one could take that monocouque, stick in a hybrid powertrain, and hit the number.

Regardless, the fact is that in order for U.S. automakers to meet the 54.5 mpg mark in 2025 and the Europeans to meet the European Union legislation for 95 grams of CO2/kilometer by 2021, vehicles are going to have to become significantly lighter.

And composites are one means by which this can be achieved. And Composites 2015 is one place where you can learn about it.

A Mighty Wind at GM

By: Gary S. Vasilash 24. November 2015

Wind tunnel testing is absolutely essential for creating cars and trucks that are sufficiently slippery to cut through the air with efficiency for improved fuel efficiency.

So General Motors has added another wind tunnel—a $30-million, reduced scale wind tunnel—next to its full-size wind tunnel at its GM Tech Center research campus in Warren, Michigan.

GM Reduced Scale Wind Tunnel

GM aerodynamic engineer Nina Tortosa tests underbody airflow on a Chevrolet Cruze 40-percent scale model in General Motors' new $30-million reduced scale wind tunnel.

This is a 35,000-square-foot wind tunnel that is designed for aero testing models up to 40% of the scale of a vehicle.

One of the things that they’re doing there is creating clay models of vehicles, then using 3D printing to create components such as suspension setups complete with spinning wheels to determine the effects of airflow, and even engine blocks.

According to Ken Morris, vice president, GM Global Product Integrity, “The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement. We view the new $30 million reduced scale wind tunnel as an investment towards a better, more energy-efficient future.”

The reduced-scale tunnel is equipped with a conveyor-style “rolling road” system that permits testing of real-world driving conditions—at up to 155 mph.

Don’t try that on real roads.

After Hours in L.A.

By: Gary S. Vasilash 23. November 2015

Last week’s L.A. Auto Show saw a number of important introductions from OEMs, so for this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” John McElroy and I went to the show floor to talk to some of the people who were behind some of the introductions.



There was the Lincoln MKZ, a car that has undergone a refresh so significant that to call it a “refresh” is to understate the extent to which there are changes inside, out and under the hood (as in a 400-hp turbocharged engine). So we sat down with Kumar Galhotra, the president of Lincoln and a vice president of the Ford Motor Company.

New 2017 Lincoln MKZ

Another vehicle that has been changed so much that Ford is designating it as a new generation (the fourth) is the Escape SUV. Again, this is a vehicle that has changes fore, aft, inside, and under the hood (as in two new EcoBoost engines, a 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter twin-scroll, both of which come with stop-start tech as standard). So we sat down with Milton Wong, chief engineer for the Escape.


One of the most-anticipated introductions was the Fiat 124 Spider, a reinterpretation of the car that debuted at the 1966 Turin Auto Show. And the 2017 version has its share of Italian influences, as it was penned at the Centro Stile in Turin. This is a two-seat, rear-drive soft-top. (It was developed with Mazda, which has as its version the MX-5 Miata, so the 124 Spider is a car with a 160-hp turbocharged MultiAir engine, Italian styling, and damn good bones beneath the entirely different sheet metal.) So we sat down with Bob Broderdorf, director of FIAT Brand North America to talk about the 124 Spider.

2017 Fiat 124 Spider

At the North American Auto Show in Detroit last January Buick unveiled the stylish, stately Avenir concept sedan. In Los Angeles it rolled out with the stylish, stately 2017 LaCrosse production vehicle. The LaCrosse is Buick’s flagship car, and for 2017, it has not stinted in the least bit, providing a car that is long and low, with proportions that are the kind of thing that people looking for premium automobiles are interested in. So we sat down with Tony DiSalle, vice president, Buick/GMC Marketing, to get his take on the LaCrosse, as well as Buick, which is doing rather well in the U.S. market this year.

The All – New 2017 Buick LaCrosse

In addition to which, John and I are joined by Anton Wahlman, writer for The Street and Seeking Alpha, who shares his observations on what he saw at the show—and what wasn’t there.

And you can see it all here:

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