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.

July 4, 2016
4. July 2016

George Washington said: “99% of failures come from people who make excuses.”

Washington

This is a good day for all of us—in the U.S. or elsewhere—to consider our attempts and failures, our successful efforts and ignominious crashes, and to own them, not make excuses for them.

The History of Highway Infrastructure
30. June 2016

The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 in the United States was signed by President Dwight Eisenhower who had been a strong proponent of the creation of a transcontinental highway system 40 years earlier when he participated in the U.S. Army’s first cross-country convoy from Washington, DC, to San Francisco.

eisenhower

Then, when he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II he experienced how the German autobahn facilitated transport in that country, which made him all the more interested in having good roads in the U.S.

When he made his State of the Union Address in 1954 he made it clear that a good highway system was one of his priorities, and he had to restate that in this 1956 State of the Union because Congress wasn’t making it happen.

When the Federal Highway Act of 1956 came out of a House-Senate conference committee, authorizing $25-billion to be spent between FY 1957 to 1969 for 41,000 miles of highway, and President Eisenhower got the bill to sign into law, he did so with some alacrity—he was in Walter Reed Army Medical Center at the time, recovering from an illness. He didn’t want to waste any time.

When history is written about the transportation system in the U.S. circa right now, this week may be an important one.

One of the biggest inhibitors of electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen-powered vehicles is infrastructure.

Simply put: the need for more fast electric charging stations and more gas stations (as in H2, not C8H18).

eGolf

According to the EPA, the settlement that Volkswagen reached with government “requires VW to invest $2 billion toward improving infrastructure, access and education to support and advance zero emission vehicles. The investments will be made over 10 years, with $1.2 billion directed toward a national EPA-approved investment plan and $800 million directed toward a California-specific investment plan that will be approved by CARB.”

And, according to CARB—the California Air Resources Board—Volkswagen, through the consent decree, is required “to invest $800 million dollars in ZEV infrastructure and access over a 10-year period in California. Volkswagen will be installing zero-emission vehicle fueling infrastructure (for both electric and hydrogen-powered cars), funding consumer awareness campaigns to increase the zero-emission vehicle market, and investing in projects such as car-sharing programs that will increase access to zero-emission vehicles for all consumers in California. These brand-neutral projects will support the next generation of zero-emission vehicles that will be sold in California, helping to grow the state’s burgeoning ZEV program, and will help lay the zero-emissions foundation for achieving the State’s air quality and climate goals.”

In other words, the infrastructure build-out necessary for EVs and hydrogen vehicles, in California first, but presumably with scale will come proliferation, is going to be underwritten in the U.S. by Volkswagen AG.  This is infrastructure that is going to be accessible to vehicles from General Motors and Toyota, Mercedes and Hyundai, Ford and Honda.  And, yes, Volkswagen.  But it will more than kick-start the process.

A silver lining to the diesel cloud.

Lambo’s Limited Edition Miura Homage
29. June 2016

One of the cars that automotive designers everywhere give a hat tip to is the Lamborghini Miura. So to give it some special recognition, the people from Sant’Agata Bolognese have created the Aventador Miura Homage, which comes out of Lambo’s Ad Personam studio.

Miura

There will be just 50 copies of the car that was the forerunner, 50 years ago, of all V12 Lamborghinis.

The original car was available with a wide color pallet. The homage is being painted with just a handful, including Rosso Arancio Miura (solid color); Verde Scandal (solid); and Blu Tahiti (metallic).

Miura1

The car has the color scheme of the original in that the upper is one color and the lower body and sill in a contrasting tone.

Inside, there are two leather colors, Nero Ade and terra Emilia, which with tone-on-tone stitching. While that may be somewhat subtle, there is a 50th anniversary logo stitched in gold or silver on the upper portion of the seats in either gold or silver, as well as “Lamborghini” lettering embroidered on the leather dashboard. And in keeping with the “hey-look-at-me” garnishes, the Dione rims are either matt silver or gold, and there are a metallic Miura badge on the side of the car and a highly visible—inside and out--limited edition plate on the inside of the car.

Miura2

However, for a decent amount of time that bling will be a blur inasmuch as the 6.5-liter, 700-hp V12 rockets the car from 0 to 62 in 2.9 seconds and the Aventador Miura Homage has a top speed of 217 mph.

Bellissimo.  Except for the somewhat garish self-references, that is.

Camry Is Cars.com American-Made Champ
28. June 2016

When it comes to sedans in the U.S., the Toyota Camry has pretty much become synonymous with the word sedan: it has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for 14 years running, and the delta between it and second place is generally non-trivial.

That is, in 2015 there were 429,355 Camrys sold in the U.S. The second-place car came in with 363,332 units, or a difference of 66,023 cars, which is nearly the total number of Chevrolet Sonics sold in the U.S. in 2015 (64,775). That second-place car, incidentally, is the Toyota Corolla.  Seems that those Toyotas are awfully popular in the U.S. market, to understate the case profoundly.

camry

Whether the Camry will hit 15 in a row in terms of sales leadership has months to be determined (through may there were 167,199 delivered, so it is on track to do so), today it was announced that it has achieved the top spot in the Cars.com American-Made Index.

The Camry was also #1 on the 2015 Cars.com American-Made Index, which takes to account various parameters including sourcing of parts, sales, and number of U.S. employees supported by the production of the vehicles.

Notably, the Camry is built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) in Georgetown—which, according to Toyota, is its largest single vehicle manufacturing plant in the world. TMMK has a capacity to build 550,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines each year.

In addition to the Camry and Camry Hybrid, the Avalon and Avalon Hybrid are built at TMMK, as is the Lexus ES 350.

Also coming out of Georgetown are axles, steering components, engine blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts, camshafts, connecting rods, and axle assemblies.

Toyota has four other vehicle assembly plants in the U.S., as well as four other components manufacturing facilities.

Of the approximately 35,000 direct employees that Toyota has in the U.S. some 70% are involved in manufacturing operations.

“This recognition from Cars.com is a tribute to Toyota employees, not only those at the plant who build the Camry, but the broader Toyota team who design, engineer, market and finance the vehicle in the United States,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations.

And speaking of the engineers: the chief engineer for the Camry is an American, Monte Kaehr.

“Autoline After Hours” Goes Back in Time
27. June 2016

One of the great little-known stories in the history of the auto industry is that of Cäcilie Bertha Ringer, who married a man named Carl Benz in 1872. The man who was to invent the automobile, a three-wheeler, in 1885, the Benz Patent Motorwagen.

Archivnummer: D188595

As William Chapin, president of the Automotive Hall of Fame, explains, Mrs. Benz, whose dowry helped keep Benz & Cie. solvent, was responsible for getting Carl to stop tinkering and start producing his vehicle.

What’s more, in 1888 she put two of her kids in the Motorwagen and set out on a trip from Mannheim, where they lived, to Pforzheim, her hometown.

That was the first long-distance trip—approximately 66 miles—ever taken in an automobile.

Yes, Bertha Benz was a huge automotive pioneer in her own right.

Which is one of the reasons why the Automotive Hall of Fame will be inducting her into the hall in an event to be held July 21 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

There will be three other inductees Chapin talks about on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Bob Gritzinger of WardsAuto and me:

  • Ralph Nader
  • Alan Mulally
  • Roy Lunn

Nader, as some of you know, wrote a book titled Unsafe at Any Speed that set the auto industry—General Motors, in particular—on its ear when it was published in 1965. GM was so incensed by the book that they hired a private investigator to try to find something untoward about Mr. Nader. They were found out and Nader sued the company. He won.

Chapin notes that when he recently visited Nader to talk to him about the induction to the Automotive Hall of Fame Nader, who has run for president five times, pointed out that even though he is one of the more well-known graduates of both Princeton and Harvard, neither school has given him the honor that the auto industry is doing.

Mulally, of course, is a man who is given deserved credit for not only saving Ford Motor Company from the problems (to put it mildly) that GM and Chrysler went through that were exacerbated by the Great Recession, but who helped put Ford on a path such that the company is arguably more competitive in the market than it has ever been (outside, perhaps, the days of Henry Ford).

Which is interesting to consider when you know that Mulally has a B.S. and an M.S. in aeronautical and astronomical engineering, which pretty much explains why he worked for Boeing right out of college back in 1969. He was to be with Boeing, where he became the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, before joining Ford in those capacities in 2006.

Roy Lunn was to work at Ford starting in 1953, but in the United Kingdom. Lunn’s education and training in England were in engineering, and he worked at companies including AC Cars, Aston Martin and Jowett before joining Ford.

1966 GT40

He moved to the U.S. in 1958, and within a few years was assigned to the project that was to become the massively important and successful Ford GT40, the car that beat Ferrari and Le Mans in 1966, then was to go on to win the race for three more years.

In 1971 Lunn joined American Motors and eventually became vice president of Engineering. He was instrumental in the creation of the first four-wheel drive car developed in the U.S., the AMC Eagle.

And while on the subject of American Motors it is worth noting that the company was established in 1954 as a result of the acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company by Nash-Kelvinator. William Chapin’s grandfather founded the Hudson Motor Car Company in 1909. Chapin’s father, Roy Chapin, Jr., who was with American Motors from the start, went on to become CEO of AMC. He was the man responsible for the purchase of Jeep from Kaiser Motors in 1970.

If you have any interest in the history of the auto industry, you’ve got to take the time to watch this show:




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