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.

Is Samsung More Clever Than Apple?
15. November 2016

Admittedly, one would look at that question, think about the Galaxy Note 7 debacle, and think not.

And were Apple to make major home appliances as Samsung does, one might have additional confidence that its equipment would probably do a better job of keeping clothes clean on a regular basis, something that Samsung has also been going through the ringer about.

Apple had reportedly been working on a car. The code name: “Project Titan.” There were all manner of auto people reportedly working in Cupertino, from companies ranging from Ford to Mercedes. In its June issue Motor Trend did a story that included the work of a group of Art Center designers imagining what the Apple Car would look like.


Everyone was anxiously anticipating what sort of electric vehicle that Apple could pull off.

It was a big deal. Suddenly car fan boys and Apple fan boys could find something to agree on.

Then in late September it was reported that Apple was going to buy McLaren, the British supercar producer, a manufacturer that is as tech-oriented as any company anywhere from Detroit to Cupertino.

But then October the word was that Apple was laying off engineers who were working on the car. Perhaps, it seemed, the idea isn’t to make a physical car, but the software that would connect the car in a way that the iPhone connects almost everyone who isn’t using a Samsung device.

Which brings us back to the Korean company.

Which is buying Harman International for $8-billion.

Harman is the company best-known for his home and mobile audio systems. Harman Kardon. Infinity. JBL. Mark Levinson. Revel. And so on. According to the company, “More than 25 million automobiles on the road today are equipped with Harman audio. . .” and, importantly for Samsung, “connected car services.”

That’s right. While the magnificent audio systems get a lion’s share of the attention, the company’s engineers have been working diligently at creating software and sensors and the like that can lead to automated driving capabilities. Harman has secured space on the ever-so-important instrument cluster and it has been working to increase its share of space: beyond the audio head unit there can be all manner of functions to make a smarter, more connected car included.

Now while this may not lead to a “Samsung Car” the way there was thought to be an “Apple Car,” Samsung from the time the ink is dry on the acquisition documents is physically in cars.

Yes, there is Apple CarPlay showing up in cars at an ever-increasing rate.

But now Samsung is tied directly into the vehicle’s physical network.

And as it works toward increasing autonomous capabilities for cars, it has a revenue stream from all of those audio systems that Harman has created.

48-volt Hits Production
14. November 2016

“In 2025, approximately one in five new vehicles across the world will be equipped with a 48-volt drive,” Juergen Wiesenberger, head of Hybrid Electric Vehicles at Continental North America said last week.

And Continental is doing its part to make that happen, as it announced the volume production launch of its low-voltage hybrid drive system, which is going to be deployed in the Renault Scenic Hybrid Assist model.


This system is a “P0” type, which means that there is an electric motor—in this case a water-cooled induction motor with an integrated converter—that’s attached by belt drive to the crankshaft of the engine. There is a DC/DC converter as part of the system, as well as a lithium ion battery.

Through the use of the belt drive, up to 150 Nm can be transmitted to the crankshaft. The system is compact, taking the place of an alternator. (One way a compact size is maintained: the inverter—which is based on a metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET)—is integrated in the housing lid.

The DC/DC converter allows the 48-volt system to be connected to the vehicle’s on-board power supply such that some of the energy in the lithium-ion battery can be used for on-board applications.

That said, what’s the benefit? Fuel savings. For one thing, the engine can be switched off, not simply when the vehicle is at a stop (which is what start-stop systems can do, and know that they’re generally based on 12-volt batteries), but as a vehicle approaches a stop, at speeds of 13 mph and below. It has been found that on the New European Driving cycle, the fuel savings is 13 percent. According to Continental, in city driving, fuel economy gains are even better, as much as 21 percent, due to the fact that there is more time driving at slow (or no) speed.

And it is worth noting that the 48-volt system provides an engine restart within 0.2 seconds.

Wiesenberger noted, “Other production launches for both diesel and gasoline vehicles are in the pipeline for North America, Europe and China." Which will help move toward that 20 percent deployment of 48-volt systems.

Audi Launching Laser Lights
11. November 2016

Audi, which arguably revolutionized automotive lighting in 2004, when it brought out the A8 L W12 with LED daytime running lights, will be undoubtedly have other OEMs chasing it again as it is supplementing the LED headlights* on an exclusive edition of the R8 with laser high-beam modules.

That’s right. The 2017 Audi R8 V10 plus exclusive edition, of which 25 will be built, cars that have a starting MSRP of $229,200, are being equipped with high beams based on laser diodes.

Audi extends its lead with high-resolution Matrix Laser technology

Each lamp has four high-intensity laser diodes from OSRAM that are bundled into a beam with a 450-nanometer wavelength. The resultant blue beam is then sent to a micro-optical system from Bosch with electro-mechanical control that transforms the blue color into white light with a phosphor converter. That is then used to supplement the LED high beam when the vehicle is at speeds of 40 mph and above.

The laser lights have been available in Europe since 2014. They will be introduced by Audi on the new R8 at the 2017 LA Auto Show.

*Each headlamp makes use of 37 LEDs.

GM, Poetry and Biodiversity
10. November 2016

Some of you may recognize this passage from William Blake’s “Jerusalem”:

And did the Countenance Divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here

Among these dark Satanic Mills?

He wrote that song in 1804 when factories were, in effect, “dark Satanic Mills.”

Anyone who has been to a contemporary factory in the developed world knows that things are far less mephitic than they once were.


But let’s face it: if you have an assembly plant that requires acres for buildings and parking lots, chances are it is not a place through which anyone is going to go gamboling.

That said, a shout out to General Motors. It has 62 sites* (many, but not all, factories) that have achieved Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council. GM is managing some 5,000 acres of habitat in 13 countries.

GM people are planting trees in Mexico and Thailand. Creating pollinator gardens in South Korea and building nesting places for birds in Flint, Michigan.

The giant corporation is supporting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal to address biodiversity loss.

Had it been around in the 19th century, Blake might have been a less tormented man.


*2016 Certifications:

1. Flint Tool & Die (Michigan)

2. Edmonton Parts Distribution Centre (Alberta, Canada)

3. Langley (Vancouver) Parts Distribution Center (British Columbia, Canada)

4. Woodstock Customer Care and Aftersales (Ontario, Canada)

5. Lansing Grand River Assembly (Michigan)

6. Rochester Operations (New York)

7. Bogotá Complex (Colombia)

8. San Luis Potosí Complex (México)

9. Silao Complex (México)

10. Toluca Complex (México)

11. Boryeong Complex (Republic of Korea)

12. Rayong Vehicle Plant (Thailand)

13. Rayong Powertrain (Thailand)

14. Talegaon Complex (India)

15. Tashkent Engine (Uzbekistan)

16. GM South Africa Struandale Complex (South Africa)

2016 Re-Certifications:

1. Bay City Powertrain (Michigan)

2. Romulus Powertrain (Michigan)

3. Saginaw Metal Casting Operations (Michigan)

4. Warren Transmission (Michigan)

5. Parma Metal Center (Ohio)

6. Kokomo Operations (Indiana)

7. Fort Wayne Assembly (Indiana)

8. Marion Metal Center (Indiana)

9. St. Catherines Powertrain (Ontario)

10. Ramos Arizpe Complex (México)

11. Kapuskasing Cold Weather Development Center (Ontario)

12. Customer Care and Aftersales Headquarters (Michigan)

13. Warren Technical Center (Michigan)

14. Joinville Engine (Brazil)

15. São Caetano do Sul Complex (Brazil)

Sites Already Certified:

1. Fairfax Assembly (Kansas)

2. Defiance Casting (Ohio)

3. Pontiac Metal Center/Global Powertrain Headquarters (Michigan)

4. Orion Assembly (Michigan)

5. Gunsan Complex (Republic of Korea)

6. Rosario Automotive Complex (Argentina)

7. Milford Proving Ground (Michigan)

8. Arlington Assembly (Texas)

9. Bedford Powertrain (Indiana)

10. CAMI Assembly (Ontario)

11. GM Renaissance Center World Headquarters (Michigan)

12. General Motors of Canada Headquarters (Ontario)

13. Gravataí Complex (Brazil)

14. Lordstown Complex (Ohio)

15. Oshawa Assembly (Ontario)

16. São José dos Campos Complex (Brazil)

17. Spring Hill Manufacturing (Tennessee)

18. Toledo Transmission (Ohio)

19. Baltimore Operations (Maryland)

20. Bowling Green Assembly (Kentucky)

21. Drayton Warehouse (Michigan)

22. Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly (Michigan)

23. Desert Proving Ground (Arizona)

24. Grand Rapids Operations (Michigan)

25. Guangde Proving Ground (China)

26. Lansing Delta Township Assembly (Michigan)

27. Lockport Components (New York)

28. Mogi das Cruzes (Brazil)

29. Tonawanda Engine (New York)

30. Vauxhall Ellesmere Port (England)

31. Wentzville Assembly (Missouri)

Magna and the Seating Study
9. November 2016

Chances are, when you think of “global ethnographic studies” you think of the United Nations or something. Not car seats.

Yet Magna Seating conducted such a study and results have led it to develop two new seats, the Pitch Slide and the Tip Slide, both of which are designed and engineered to make ingress and egress to the third row of vehicles easier (e.g., the Pitch Slide on the 2017 GMC Acadia).

Magna Pitch Slide and Tip Slide

Both seats make use of Magna’s i-DiSC 4 recliners and META tracks.

The Pitch Slide, which is designed for installation on the passenger’s side, allows the seat to be tilted and moved forward, even if a child’s safety seat is in place on that seat. The Tip Slide, for the driver’s side, maximizes the available space.

According to Dino Nardicchio, Global Vice President, Research and Development, Magna Seating, “Key to Magna’s innovation is our ability to incorporate global trends, the needs of the auto industry and the requirements of our customers into solutions that fit the needs of today’s vehicle owners.  With this ethnography study, we were able to hear directly from global consumers so that we can incorporate their wants and needs into future seating options.”

Among the results of the study:

  • People are interested in seating flexibility and versatility. (E.g., Magna worked with FCA on the Stow ‘n Go system for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.)
  • U.S. and Chinese people spend significant non-driving time in their vehicles, so they’re looking for “mobile office” capability, as well as the ability to relax.
  • People want not only passenger access, but also adaptability for cargo.


2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Nardicchio points out that not only have they used some of the findings for products like the Pitch Slide, Tip Slide and Stow ‘n Go, but, “The study results will help drive our innovation process and be used to develop seating solutions and new products which are not yet available on the market.”

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