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.
Pump It Up
26. October 2016
The number of electric bicycles continues to proliferate, and one, for which a Kickstarter campaign is running until November 7, has a distinct difference from many others.
She better get pedaling: That battery won’t charge itself. . .
No, it’s not the titanium frame.
No, it’s not the Gates carbon drive belt.
No, it’s not that it can be folded to fit into a full-size suitcase. And it weighs just 26 pounds, so said suitcase can actually be carried.
The difference is that the VELLO BIKE+, from an Austrian company that was established in 2014, has an integrated Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that is used to transform the mechanical energy associated with pedaling and braking into electrical energy that’s stored in an integrated 29.6-volt lithium-ion battery.
The electricity is then used to power the 250-Watt motor.
Pedal the bike and charge the battery. Use the motor to assist when you need it. The self-charging mode can be turned off and the motor will provide pedal support for as far as 20 miles at up to 15 mph.
For those who are not keen on having to pedal to recharge the battery, there is a power socket that can be deployed.
And, yes, there is a smartphone app that can be used for control, too.
2017 Kia Sportage SX FWD
25. October 2016
Let’s say that there are three buckets to put vehicle designs in.
One is American. One is Asian. One is European. (Note that this is in alphabetical, not chauvinistic, order.)
So the quick question is: Which bucket does the 2017 Kia Sportage go into?
Now it should be pointed out that Kia is a company based in Korea. And that the Sportage is built in a plant in Gwangju, Korea.
Pretty much puts it in the Asian bucket, doesn’t it?
But look at it:
And given the ocular evidence, I’m saying European.
Yes, it was designed under the direction of Peter Schreyer, who hails from Bavaria.
Yes, it was designed in the Kia design studio in Frankfurt am Main.
Yes, it looks completely European.
And as a global product, the European market is not inconsiderable.
And given the appeal of many European products in non-European markets, the resonance can be considerable.
If you think about it, if you take Volkswagen out the equation, when it comes to the U.S. market “European” pretty much means “pricy” vehicles. (OK, there’s Fiat, too, but cute as some of the cars may be, know that its total sales—of everything—in the U.S. market in 2015 was 42,410, which is fewer than the number of Sportages sold in the U.S. in 2015, 53,739.)
Yet the Sportage is not a pricy vehicle.
That is, the SX includes a 2.0-liter, gasoline direct injected, turbocharged I4 engine that produces 240 hp and a six-speed automatic. There are electric power steering; a sport tuned suspension; paddle shifters; 19-inch alloy wheels; bi-xenon headlights with dynamic bending; dual exhaust; heated outside mirrors; metal pedals; leather seats (including a power-adjustable 10-way driver seat and two-way lumbar support); smart key and pushbutton start, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and UVO eServices telematics; blind-spot detection; lane change assist; rear cross traffic alert; autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection; lane departure warning. . . .
Yes, there is more. Yes, this is loaded.
And the MSRP on the window sticker is $32,500.
Looks good. Has the goods.
What more can you ask?
Maybe there’s one more thing to note: Earlier this year Kia was named the #1 brand in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. This is the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand achieved that ranking.
Which means that Kia scored higher in initial quality than Porsche (#2), BMW (#5), Audi (#15), and Mercedes (#16).
Euro style and Asian quality (i.e., the only other non-lux brand to score the top number was Toyota, way back in the day, and it is worth noting that the study has been conducted for 30 years).
Sportage is quite the package.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged, GDI I4, 240 hp// Transmission: Six-speed automatic//Cargo volume: Behind 2nd row: 30.7 cu. ft. // Fuel economy: 21/26/23 city/highway/combined mpg
Driving Cleaner, Smoother & With No Hands
24. October 2016
While there seems to be an inevitable drive toward powertrains that are powered by batteries or hydrogen, Tim Jackson is confident that the internal combustion engine has a long run ahead of it, and not just because the installed base is so massive.
Rather, Jackson, Executive Vice President, Technology, Strategy & Business Development, Tenneco, an $8.2-billion global supplier, says that by 2025 there will be clean air technologies for light vehicles that will actually cause the air coming out of the exhaust to be cleaner than the air taken in by the intake manifold.
Drive your car. Clean the air.
Tenneco has converters and particulate filters. Valves and exhaust systems. And a whole lot more.
While “clean air” products represent some 70% of Tenneco’s sales, the company has another important product line, “Ride Performance.” You may be familiar with one of its brands, Monroe.
Yes, the company produces shocks and struts—last year it manufactured more than 90 million of them.
Jackson explains that the company is going beyond the traditional, conventional suspension components which has one fixed setting to handle road conditions, to an “intelligent system” that uses sensors on the chassis and steering system to provide real-time feedback such that the system can make adjustments as needed to provide what Jackson describes as being analogous to a train on smooth rails.
And he points out that as autonomous vehicles come to the fore, occupants who are, say, trying to type on their smartphones, will have an easier time of it, as there are the vibrations that exist in even the most capable current setups.
Jackson talks about Tenneco’s technology on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Autoline’s John McElroy, Joni Gray, editor-in-chief of Autobytel.com and me.
Jackson also discusses rally racing in northern Michigan (including the Sno*Drift in the Upper Peninsula) and why he owns four fire engines.
In addition to which, McElroy, Gray and I discuss Tesla’s new autonomous tech, the establishment of Lynk & Co., a new brand by Volvo owner Geely, and a whole lot more.
And you can watch it here:
McLaren: Dashing Through the Snow
21. October 2016
The McLaren 570S coupe features a 3.8-liter, mid-engine V8 and carbon fiber chassis construction. The engine produces 562 hp. The car weighs just 2,895 pounds. The rear-drive car goes from 0 to 62 in 3.2 seconds. The top speed is 204 mph.
The starting price for the car is $184,900.
So let’s say that you bought a McLaren 570S. Let’s say that you lived someplace where there are seasons. Seasons that include snow. And ice.
So during the winter would you:
Chances are, it is one of the first three.
That said, from January 15 to February 3, 2017, in Ivalo, Finland, the “Pure McLaren Arctic Experience” will take place.
Participants will have the opportunity to use the Test World winter testing facility where they will “experience the multi-award winning McLaren 570S Coupe tackling a variety of track configurations, encompassing both ice and snow surfaces.”
Yes, there are driving coaches on hand.
But let’s face it: this is not about learning how to handle a 562-hp car in the snow and ice as much as it is having a whole lot of sliding and slipping fun.
Prices start at £12,500—which, pre-Brexit, was a lot more expensive for non-Brits than it is now.
Toyota: Collaborate or . . . .
20. October 2016
The number of auto companies that carry a family name and still have people of that name in important positions are Ford, Toyota and. . . ?
Which is something that I confess to not knowing until the announcement made last week by Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki and Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota (the name of the company was changed from having a “d” to a “t” in 1937), that they are going to be looking at ways the two can collaborate.
While Suzuki no longer sells cars in the U.S., it continues with motorcycles, ATVs and outboard motors. But elsewhere it still sells vehicles, particularly minivehicles.
Osamu Suzuki had approached Shoichiro Toyoda, Akio’s father and honorary chairman of Toyota, about the possibility of working together in R&D. And so the two companies are now proceeding to see how this might manifest itself.
One of the things that’s notable about this is what Akio Toyoda said when the announcement was made in Tokyo.
He said, in part, “Toyota is not really good at creating alliances. Traditionally, Toyota had been fixated on the need to be able to cover all of our own bases. However, as the surrounding environment is changing drastically, we need to have capability to respond to changes in order to survive. This is exactly the challenge that Toyota has to overcome now.
“We at Toyota are now making efforts for the future, such as through our initiatives which help to promote the creation of a hydrogen society, as well as R&D in the artificial intelligence and robotics fields. In these areas, we are collaborating with other companies to work together on R&D.
“Although we are still halfway there, I believe that we have to go forward with the understanding of the importance of the need to create partnerships and the establishment of standardizations.”
According to a survey in Strategy&, Toyota is the eighth biggest investor in R&D in the world and one of two auto companies in the top 10 (you may be interested to know that the #1 investor in R&D of any kind of company anywhere is Volkswagen).
Yet here is Toyoda saying that there is a need to collaborate to help realize further advances in technologies. Suzuki is undoubtedly only one of the companies that they’re talking with.
But what is all the more remarkable is Toyoda’s admission that they’re really not good at working with others, and that this is something they’re going to have to work at going forward.
While it might seem that the eighth-largest investor in R&D in the world would be in good shape vis-à-vis staying near the front of technological developments, Toyoda (and Toyota) realizes that’s not enough. Note well the “respond to changes in order to survive.”
Clearly, this is serious.
What’s all the more astonishing is that here is a company executive who is willing to publically admit that.