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.
Burning Rubber in the Sales Race & More
6. September 2016
One of the most-classic, longest-running competitions between cars doesn’t take place on the track or at stoplights on Woodward Avenue.
And it does have to do with Chevy Camaros and Ford Mustangs, the two muscle cars that have been going up one another since the mid-60s.
No, this race is the sales race.
For years the two have been competing for bragging rights when it comes to which has had the most sheet metal moved off of dealers’ lots.
And Mustang, of late, has been fairly dominant, as last year it finished with 122,349 sold, according to Autodata figures, compared with 77,502 Camaros.
Chevy has rolled out the sixth-generation Camaro last year (as a 2016 model), which garnered the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. The Mustang hasn’t been the Car of the Year since 1994. But the two tie in the number of times they’ve gotten the nod from Motor Trend, as the Camaro Z28 was awarded in 1982 and in 1974 it went to the Mustang II (which just shows that the Motor Trend editors aren’t necessarily infallible).
Last Thursday the OEMs released their sales figures for August. There were 5,604 Camaros delivered, which brings the year-to-date number to 47,958.
Meanwhile, over in Dearborn, things were somewhat more celebratory for Team Mustang, as the Blue Oval reported August sales of Mustangs at 8,299, which brings the total so far this year to 80,829 units.
Unless something extraordinary happens in the last quarter, Mustang is going to win the race. Again.
So why is Camaro doing comparatively poorly?
That’s one of the questions we discuss on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” as John McElroy and I are joined by two of Detroit’s leading automotive reporters, Mike Wayland and Mike Martinez, both of The Detroit News.
Wayland concentrates on FCA and Martinez on Ford—although they both get involved in the auto beat at large—so there’s some in-depth knowledge of what’s going on (as well as speculation about things like Mustang vs. Camaro).
The Canadian auto workers’ union, Greg LeMond’s carbon fiber company, the potential of capping the speed of big rigs—all this and more are discussed.
And you can see it all here:
Lightening the Lotus Evora 400
2. September 2016
The Lotus Evora 400 weighs 3,153 pounds in the U.S. and Canada. As the car has 400-hp under the hood, that’s a fairly light vehicle.
One of the things that the Evora 400 offers in the U.S./Canada market as standard and that is now being offered as an option in the European Union and Asia is a cupholder and tray. For those who are weight sensitive, know that it adds 0.25 pounds to the mass of the vehicle.
And for those who are really weight sensitive, Lotus is offering a variety of other options for the Evora 400.
Like the Carbon Pack. This includes a front splitter, a roof panel, rear wing center, rear diffuser finisher, front access panel, and wing mirror caps, all hand-made from the composite material. Using these parts instead of the standard offerings reduces vehicle mass by 11 pounds.
Want more—I mean less?
Well, there is a titanium sports exhaust that will cut 22 pounds, as well as a lithium-ion battery that also reduces mass by 22 pounds.
Not enough? Then there is a deletion of the air conditioning system and 2 + 0 seating instead of 2 + 2 seating.
All in, Lotus says that the mass of the Evora 400 can be reduced by 93 pounds.
But what about the cost?
Well, the Carbon Pack is $10,000.
The titanium sports exhaust is $8,000 and the lithium-ion battery $1,690.
However, the air conditioning delete and the 2 + 0 seating is at no cost.
Driving America’s Team
1. September 2016
According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Texans really love their trucks.
While there were a lot of passenger cars registered in the Lone Star State in 2015—13,288,425—there was a sizeable number of trucks (equal to or less than one-ton, or pretty much your basic pickup), too: 5,780,988.
Each year the OEMs that produce pickups make their way to the Texas State Fair to make sure that they’ve visible to the truck-hungry public.
So it may come as no surprise that Ford has announced the Dallas Cowboys edition F-150.
This is an XLT model with Chrome Package (a little bright bling) that’s painted the silver found on the Cowboys’ helmets. There are Cowboys edition badges, blue-white-blue rocker panel striping, 20-inch chrome wheels with a Cowboys star center caps, and more.
There can be no mistaking this truck for what it represents.
What is surprising, perhaps, is that it is a limited-edition: only 400 are to be built. (By the time you read this, they’re probably all gone.)
But here’s something that’s really surprising: earlier this week Lincoln announced that it is the “Official Luxury Vehicle of the Dallas Cowboys.”
Explained Kumar Galhorta, president, The Lincoln Motor Company, “Sponsoring ‘America’s Team’ makes sense. Football is about memories, about savoring the pleasure of the day and the game. And Lincoln is about creating warm, personally crafted experiences for its clients.”
Yes, the pickup trucks are one thing. But somehow the quiet, comfortable, sumptuous Lincolns are something else entirely.
Teens and Driving
31. August 2016
According to Chevrolet, this past month in the U.S., more than 360,000 teens became eligible for a restricted driver’s license. Which, of course, means, 360,000 more opportunities for Chevy.
Because Chevy knows that for the next few years of those teen’s lives their parents are going to have more than a slight influence on the driving opportunities, the division commissioned a survey by Harris Poll to see what parents are concerned with vis-à-vis their teens, and the results may be somewhat surprising.
The number-one concern is “Driving Without Adult Supervision.” That came in at 55%.
Coming in third (52%) and fourth (49%) are “Drug and Alcohol Use” and “Sexual Activity.”
Second (53%) is “Academic Performance,” which, arguably, is effected by number three and number four.
Given this concern with unsupervised teen driving, Chevy has developed technology that can at least make it a bit less nerve-wracking for parents. As a parent of teens and director of marketing for Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers, Steve Majoros, puts it, “while we can’t control a teen’s behavior when they are in a car without a parent, Chevrolet’s Teen Driver Technology can remind them to buckle up and avoid speeding, while our other available active safety features can help to alert them in certain situations when they’re making less-than-perfect driving decisions.”
The Teen Driver tech includes such features as muting the audio of the radio or device paired with the vehicle if the front seat occupants haven’t buckled up and provides audible and visible warnings if a preset speed is exceeded.
(In addition to which, there is an in-vehicle report card that is generated that includes distance driven, maximum speed, and, tellingly, overspeed warnings, stability control events, antilock braking events, and wide-open throttle events. Mom and Dad may not be there, but they’ll know what happened.)
Other available active safety tech includes lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, front and rear park assist, side blind zone alert, forward collision alert, and much more.
On behalf of teens, though, I should point out that those available safety technologies are as critically useful to many of those drivers who are chronologically adults.
Auto Scores High in Satisfaction Index
30. August 2016
Although the auto industry gets more than its share of knocks, it seems, there is some good news for the industry. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) that was released last week shows that customer satisfaction—based on 3,776 customer surveys collected in the second quarter of 2016—is up by 3.8% for the auto industry overall to 82 on the 100-point ACSI scale.
2017 Lincoln MKZ
Before looking at how some of the automotive companies did, it might be worth knowing how other industries faired.
“Televisions & Video Players” tie auto at 82. But while people seem to love their cell phones, they’re down at 79. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of distance between the two, but phones are fourth, not first.
Banks and breweries both score 76. And oddly, gas stations and hospitals tie at 75. (I don’t know about you, but I hope that when I need a hospital it will be better than that place I visited this morning where the guy in line in front of me stocked up on beef jerky and smokeless tobacco.)
At the bottom, just ahead of Subscription Television Service at 65, is Internet Service Providers, at 64.
That 82 for auto looks pretty darn good.
Looked at from a brand basis, Lincoln comes in first at 87, with Honda in second place at 86. Then there are Toyota and BMW at 85, and Lexus, GMC, Subaru and Infiniti, all at 85.
Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, pointed out, that mass-market brands are perceived to be performing so well that luxury brands are under pressure: “If there is little difference, why pay more?” he rhetorically asks, adding, “Exclusivity may not be enough.”
Which is perhaps not so good for those building luxury vehicles, but great news for those who may not be able to afford the premium brands.
However, as for those internet providers. . . .