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.

Ford GT Display Development
18. January 2017

As you are unlikely to ever be in one of these:

Ford GT at NAIAS

(and I’m not implying my odds for getting there are much better), you’re unlikely to ever see this, the 10-inch wide all-digital display in the Ford GT:

All-New Ford GT Supercar’s Digital Instrument Display

Speaking to the development of TFT LCD display, Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Performance, said, “Driver focus and attention are key with such high performance. We’ve designed the GT with a sleek digital instrument display that changes depending on driving mode in ways that are important and usable to the driver.”

There are five modes the screen can go into; modes are selected via controls on the steering wheel. The primary difference between the modes is the way that the information is presented on the screens, as different driving conditions require different informational priorities.

That is, in Normal, the speedometer is centered, the gear selection is on the right and the fuel and temperature displays on the upper left. There is a hockey-stick shaped tachometer, with an emphasis on the range from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm, because the engine revs so fast, below that is quickly passed.

Wet mode is more of a cosmetic change, with the layout being like Normal, but the graphics are meant to evoke wet conditions.

Sport mode puts the gear selection in the center and the speedometer to the right. Here the graphic theme is orange.

Track mode has a black background and a red theme. The key information are gear selection and engine speed. Coolant temperature, oil pressure and temperature, and fuel level are at the bottom right.

Then V-Max has a large centered speedometer, with other information being subordinated and minimized (e.g., the tachometer is simply a line with an indicator dot). After all, when the goal is nothing but high speed. . .

To develop the display, Ford designers and engineers worked with Conjure on the graphics and Pektron to bring it into production reality.

And even in the event that we ever get behind the wheel of a Ford GT, few of us will ever go fast enough see this:

All-New Ford GT Supercar’s Digital Instrument Display

Lexus on Land and at Sea
17. January 2017

Last week in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, Lexus debuted the 2018 Lexus LS 500, the fifth-generation of company’s flagship sedan:


This is an all-new car, based on the Lexus GA-L architecture, which, according to the company, is the stiffest in its history, providing a basis for handling, smoothness and quietness. The vehicle is powered by a new 415-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

A development theme that was used for the development of the LS 500 is omotenashi, the Japanese concept of hospitality. This is evident in the cabin that includes such things as 28-way front power seats. There’s ambient lighting that is inspired by Japanese lanterns; there is an abundance of natural woodwork in distinctive patterns.

(We were remiss in not noting last week that the LS 500 received an EyesOn Design Award for Interior design.)

Meanwhile, also last week, down in Miami at Di Lido Island on Biscayne Bay, this Lexus was revealed:


Yes, an open sport yacht that was developed by the Lexus Design Center in Toyota City.

This Lexus is a concept. A one-off. One interesting aspect is the way the yacht is assembled. The upper deck and outer hull are bonded around the inner structure. The deck and hull are both hand-laid composite components (two-part polyurethane epoxy resin reinforced with woven carbon fiber cloth). These CFRP parts are said to contribute to a weight savings of some 2,200 pounds as compared with a yacht based on fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

(It may be interesting to note that through the use of materials like ultra-high-strength steels and aluminum the LS 500 engineers were able to reduce the mass of the sedan by about 200 pounds.)

And when it comes to powertrain, whereas the new sedan has a V6, the Lexus Sport Yacht has a V8—actually, it has two 5.0-liter V8s, which provide a total of 885 hp.

Of course, given that it has amenities that the LS 500 lacks—like a two-burner stove, refrigerator and shower—it needs a little more power.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback LT w/RS
16. January 2017

I’ve driven a lot of cars over the years, but never have I driven one that was targeted in a tweet from a president-elect--"General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!"—and responded to the same day by the corporation: “General Motors manufactures the Chevrolet Cruze sedan in Lordstown, Ohio. All Chevrolet Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. are built in GM’s assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. GM builds the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback for global markets in Mexico, with a small number sold in the U.S.” That happened on January 3.

The first ever Cruze Hatch blends sporty design with the versatility of a hatch making it adaptable for urban to outdoor adventures.

At the risk of getting political here, it is rather astonishing that there is attention being paid to a perfectly well-built, comparatively inexpensive five-door. I mean, the base MSRP for the one that I drove is $21,240. According to Kelley Blue Book the estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States was $35,309 in December 2016, so the balance of trade is unlikely to be tipped by the Cruze Hatchback.

And while hatches are arguably becoming more popular, there is not going to be some sort of car hauler jam up at the U.S.-Mexico border with Cruzes rolling north.

The Cruze is a global car. It is Chevrolet’s—as in “The Heartbeat of America’s”—number-one best-selling car on the planet. They buy them in Europe. They buy them in China. They buy them in North America. They buy them all over the place.

And in the particular case of the hatch, GM’s official statement about a “small number sold in the U.S.,” painful as it must be to admit, is undoubtedly true because when people are faced with a choice of a sedan or a hatch in a U.S. showroom, unless the hatch door is on the back of a crossover, the sedan is going to be the one more often selected. People like cars to have a trunk.

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers 47.2 cubic feet of rear cargo room with the back seats flipped down.

Now one of the things about global cars that is worth keeping in mind is that because they’re sold in so many markets there is the opportunity to amortize the development cost of the vehicles. And there is the opportunity to buy parts in greater volume, which also has a downward pressure on cost due to economies of scale.

Meaning that the global nature of the Cruze makes it more economical than it otherwise might be. And it would even be possible to argue that its global nature makes it a better car than it otherwise might be, as you surely don’t want to have a dud on your hands from Schenectady to Shanghai and points in between.

The Cruze I drove is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Manuals are becoming like proverbial hen’s teeth in the U.S. market. Car and Driver magazine actually started a “Save the Manuals!” campaign back in 2010 and things have only gotten increasingly dire for the stick shift in the subsequent years.

But in other parts of the world, manual transmissions are pretty much what cars come with. So presumably there is something of the global nature to that transmission, too.

While the vehicle is assembled in Mexico, where the 153-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is produced, as regards the pieces that go into making the hatch, 44 percent are sourced from the U.S. and Canada and 32 percent from Mexico. Guess that doesn’t fit in a tweet.

One wonders whether the president-elect’s team got a copy of the window sticker for the 2017 Cruze Hatchback LT w/RS Manual and discovered that the transmission was sourced from Austria, birth place of the current host of Celebrity Apprentice, the TV show that the president-elect continues to serve as executive producer of. As he tweeted on January 6: “Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT” As you’ll recall, Mr. Trump, a.k.a., DJT, had been the host of that show.

Nice transmission, though.

Believe it.

Engine: 1.4-liter direct-injected I4, 153 hp// Transmission: M32 six-speed manual//Seating: 5// Cargo volume: 47.2 cu. ft. behind first row, 24.7 cu. ft. behind second row // Fuel economy: 28/37/31 city/highway/combined mpg

The 2017 Cruze Hatch offers the design, engineering and technological advancements of the 2016 Cruze sedan in a functional, sporty package with added cargo space.

Peak ICE?
13. January 2017

According to Kregg Wiggins, senior vice president, Powertrain Div., North America, Continental, looking ahead, “The future of individual mobility is electric.”

Meaning, the electrification of powertrains will not only continue, but accelerate.

He says that there will be rapid growth going toward 2025, with both 48-volt hybrids and all-electric vehicles gaining significant traction.


48-volt hybrid drive system from Continental that’s used in the Renault Scenic Hybrid Assist.

Wiggins says that while the overall number of light vehicles will continue to rise, given the influx of hybrids and EVs, the number of internal combustion engines produced will peak in the 2025 to 2030 period.

This is not to suggest that ICEs will be going away, just that rather than continuing an upward projection the numbers will tail off.

On the subject of diesels, he thinks that 1.6-liter diesels and below will not be redesigned and will go out of production. But he points out that diesels are essential for many applications—such as in commercial trucking—so that while there may also be a drop off in overall numbers, they will continue to be deployed.

Kia and Nissan Win EyesOn Design Awards
12. January 2017

Congratulations to both Kia and Nissan for receiving EyesOn Design Awards at the North American International Auto Show in the categories of Production and Concept vehicles, respectively.

The Kia Stinger is a five-passenger sport performance sedan designed in the Kia studio in Europe. . .and the car is targeted to compete with European sedans in that segment.

2018 Stinger

Gregory Guillaume, chief designer, Kia Motors Europe, said of the vehicle, “A true gran turismo, a car for spirited long-distance driving is not about outright power, hard-edged dynamics and brutal styling, all at the expense of luxury, comfort and grace.”

2018 Stinger

Yet the car has a long hood and a fastback that provides a sense of forward motion while standing still. That said, rather than having sharply creased sheet metal, the forms are soft and fluidic.

In the front there is the now-classic tiger-nose grille; around back there is a slight spoiler formed into the rear of the decklid and four exhausts in the lower valance.

2018 Stinger

The Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept vehicle is a sedan, as well, but in this case there are crisp character lines all around the car.

Nissan Vmotion 2.0

Whereas the Stinger has a massive C-pillar, the Vmotion 2.0 has a floating roof line. The clear roof of the Vmotion 2.0 continues the windshield and flows back to the backlight. According to Mamoru Aoki, executive design director, Nissan Global Design Strategy, “Vmotion 2.0 offers a stunning look into the future of Nissan design—fresh and dynamic, yet cabin focused.”

Nissan Vmotion 2.0

What’s interesting about the execution is that while it is about the “future” of Nissan design, from the V-shape in the grille to the boomerang tail lamps, there are design cues that can be seen in production models like the Maxima, so this future is firmly planted with roots in the now.

Nissan Vmotion 2.0

EyesOn Design was established in 1987 with support from Jack Telnack of Ford, Chuck Jordan of GM and Tom Gale of Chrysler, three of the most legendary designers in this industry. This organization, which celebrates automotive design, works to raise money for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology. More than $4-million has been raised for the DIO by this design-centric organization.

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