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.

VW Makes Environmental Strides—in Manufacturing
15. July 2016

While that whole diesel thing still may not be working out so well for Volkswagen Group—last week Reuters reported that the European Consumer Organization put out a statement citing a test by an Italian consumer group, Altroconsumo, that shows that a 2.0-liter EA 189 Euro 5 diesel engine in an Audi Q5 had 25 percent higher NOx emissions after the dodgy software had been removed than before it—but the manufacturing personnel at Volkswagen brand have been working hard at improving things on their end, as in improving the environmental correctitude of their operations by 25.3 percent and saving the company more than €100 million in the process.


The program they’ve been undertaking for the past several years is called “Think Blue. Factory,” and according to Peter Bosch, VW head of Optimization Strategy, Processes, Structures, "Investments in environmental technologies protect precious resources and avoid emissions, benefiting everyone. They also make economic sense. Since 2010, we have saved far more than €100 million.” Bosch added, “Over the next few years, we will make further substantial progress.”

Specific achievements between 2010 and 2015, based on production of vehicles and/or components, include:

· Energy consumption reduced 24.7 percent

· CO2 emissions down 29.1 percent

· Waste production down 46.5 percent

· Water consumption reduced 18.2 percent

· Solvent emissions down 8.2 percent

It should be noted that “Think Blue. Factory.” is not just about making massive changes, but small ones, ideas that plants across the Volkswagen network share. Some 5,000 ideas have been generated, of which 2.500 have been implemented.

It’s not just the tailpipe when it comes to emissions. Credit to Volkswagen for its “Think Blue. Factory.”


Tires and the Importance of Proper Pressure
14. July 2016

The U.S. Congress enacted the TREAD Act on November 1, 2000, which included the mandate that, within one year of that time, the Secretary of Transportation would enact a rule that there is “a warning system in new motor vehicles to indicate to the operator when a tire is significantly under-inflated.”

Time marched on and it wasn’t until September 1, 2007, that new light vehicles in the U.S. had to be equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Things were later in the European Union, as they didn’t have a requirement until November 2014.

Continental Automotive has been producing TPMS since 2002. It builds them in a variety of production locations ranging from France to Korea to Mexico.


Last week the company announced that it has produced 200-million systems.

According to Conti, knowing that one’s tires are properly inflated isn’t just helpful, but is critical to safety.

That is, they calculate that on a wet surface, braking distance increase by over 20 feet when traveling at 62 mph if the tire pressure is at 23.2 psi rather than the required 30.5 psi. Or, while a car with properly inflated tires would be stopped, the underinflated car would still be going 20.5 mph.

And while Continental makes tires, too, the company points out that if the pressure in a car’s four tires is off by 8.7 psi the service life of the tire falls by 45 percent.

45 percent.

What’s more, there is a 4 percent fuel consumption penalty to boot.

But if you’ve priced a set of tires lately, someone having to take the time to stop off at a service station for air seems awfully beneficial in light of the wear the tires otherwise might have far too quickly.

Electric Wheels—for Bikes
13. July 2016

During a recent meeting we attended held by Robert Bosch in its North American headquarters in Farmington Hills, we learned about a variety of initiatives related to such things as Industry 4.0 and advances in automotive technology for automated solutions.

We also heard about something that we’d been unaware of: Bosch eBike. Yes, the company has established a business, with regional headquarters in Irvine, California, to support bicycle manufacturers with electric motors to supplement the riders’ pedaling. Top speed is on the order of 20 mph.

While there is a lot of talk about electric vehicles—here, and elsewhere—there is, apparently, a burgeoning interest for electric bicycles, which is leading to some innovative designs.

Like this, the Copenhagen Wheel, which actually has American roots as it was designed at MIT's SENSEable City Lab, and has been further developed by a company based in Cambridge, Superpedestrian, which holds an exclusive license to the wheel.


Inside that red housing are sensors, an electric motor, lithium-ion battery, and Bluetooth-enabled control system. Just as Bosch is putting digital addressability into its products, the Copenhagen Wheel can be paired with a smartphone, which allows the selection of rider-assistance modes as well as to lock the wheel when the bike is parked. Like hybrid and electric automobiles, the Copenhagen Wheel features regenerative braking.

The wheel has a price on the order of $1,200.

Another Cambridge-based company (clearly there is something about MIT and bikes), GeoOrbital, is offering preordering for its GeoOrbital wheel, which is expected to ship in February 2017.

Whereas the Copenhagen Wheel goes in the rear of a bike, the GeoOrbital wheel is engineered to replace the front wheel.


It includes a 36-v, 500-w brushless DC motor, 36-v, 10-Ah lithium-ion battery, an aluminum unibody, motor controller, and a flat-proof tire. It, too, features regenerative braking.

Depending on the model (there are two), the range without pedaling is 12 or 20 miles. Both offer a top speed of 20 miles per hour—without pedaling.

A preorder for the GeoOrbital wheel is $799.

Addressing Prop Shaft Vibrations
12. July 2016

The BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive, which will be available in the U.S. in September, is powered by a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 that produces 600 hp between 5,750 rpm and 6,250 rpm and provides maximum torque of 590 lb-ft starting at 3,000 rpm. It has a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and has an anticipated top speed of 193 mph.


The car has an eight-speed automatic transmission that was developed along with ZF.

As it is an “xDrive” sedan, this means that it has all-wheel drive. Given the sort of power here, there is an issue with the torsional vibrations from the engine, going through the transmission, then to the prop shaft that runs the power to the rear wheels. A car running at 186 mph results in prop shaft rotation of 7,500 rpm.


Needless to say, torsional vibrations at these extremes are not in the least bit good not only in terms of noise (clunks and rattles), but so far as the powertrain itself is concerned.

For the ALPINA B7 xDrive a new decoupling disc designed to isolate the torsional vibration at the prop shaft is being deployed. This cord-reinforced elastomer coupling, called the “NGR” Disc (for “new rubber generation”), was developed by German supplier Vibracoustic along with BMW.


The disc is engineered with cord-reinforcements that are tailored via cord types, winding processes and elastomer compounds to the specific vibrations set up by the powerful powertrain.

In addition to which, it is both 32 percent lighter and more compact than competitive solutions.

When you have a car with a base MSRP of $137,000, vibrations, clunks and rattles are the last thing you want to hear while listening to the optional--$3,400--Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System.

Bloodhound SSC to Run for the Record in 2017
11. July 2016

The Bloodhound SSC—the vehicle that has been designed and engineered to break the record set by Andy Green in the Thrust SSC back on October 15, 1997: 763.035 mph, the World Land Speed Record that still stands—will make its run in October 2017 in South Africa, the team recently announced.


(Photos: Flock & Siemens)

Of course, this is if the development continues on course: there is just one Bloodhound SSC, so if something goes wrong with it. . . .

One interesting aspect of the development project is that a key portion is the disassembly of the car. That’s right: taking the completed car apart. This will be done so that the engineers and technicians will be able to document that procedures, which will result in the creation of the “Bloodhound SSC User Manual,” an illustrated guide to the world’s fastest car.

The team figures this will be essential next year when they’re working on the car in the Kalahari Desert.

The vehicle will have its first run under power in June 2017 at the Newquay Aerohub in Cornwall. It will run at a loaf, only around 220 mph.

Assuming all goes correctly, then the 13.5-meter-long, 7.5-metric ton vehicle will be packed up and shipped via a CargoLogicAir Boeing 747 to Upington, South Africa, then transported by road to the desert base at Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape, South Africa.

For those wondering how this vehicle is expected to go in excess of 1,000 mph, know that it is powered by both a Nammo rocket and a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, the combination of which results in around 135,000 horsepower.

You might wonder how you stop something like this.

You use a redundant system. There are airbrakes, two parachutes and wheel brakes, each of which will be used sequentially. At 1,000 mph the throttle is closed, thereby slowing the car to around 800 mph, at which point the airbrakes applied, creating 6 metric tons of drag. When the Bloodhound SSC is down to about 600 mph, the first parachute is deployed; the second parachute is deployed—if necessary—at 400 mph. The parachutes are on a 20-meter line so that there isn’t excessive turbulence right at the rear of the car. Then, at 250 mph, the wheel brakes are applied. The plan has it that all of this will bring it to a stop.

Here’s something interesting about the wheel brakes:

When the vehicle is tested at Newquay, it will be fitted with carbon fiber wheel discs, just like on race cars and airplanes.

However, when the car makes its run in the desert, those composite discs will be replaced with steel brake discs.

Why? Because they tested the composite discs under the extremes that the brakes will see during the World Record Runs and they exploded. Not ideal at 250 mph.


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