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.

Cars Then & Now & in Cuba
27. February 2017

This is the very first Chevrolet Camaro:

Belle Isle Camaro Museum

It has VIN #100001. The 1967 Camaro is one of 49 cars that were hand-built in the Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant in 1966. It features a 3.7-liter inline six-cylinder engine and a three-speed manual transmission.

So now in 2017, it is arguably the 50th anniversary of that car (even though Camaros went on sale in late 1966).

This very first Camaro is going to be on display at the 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which is being held this March 10-12 on Amelia Island, Florida.

Bill Warner is the founder and chairman of the event. Warner is also a racer, a writer, a photographer, and a guy who has probably forgotten more about cars that any 10 other people even know.

And on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Warner talks with Autoline’s John McElroy, Frank Marcus of Motor Trend and me not only about what’s going to be happening at this year’s Concours—which includes not only a massive range of classic cars from many of the Japanese cars that were the first to win significant races to the Aston Martin DB5 that appeared in Goldfinger to an array of vehicles that are at the top of their classes—but about the future of car collecting in general (Warner notes that there is some cooling in the auction scene as on the one hand an older generation of collectors are starting to unload their vehicles and on the other hand there isn’t as keen an interest among a younger generation in collecting some of these vehicle).


What’s more, Warner, who along with Tom Cotter, went to Cuba and authored Cuba’s Car Culture: Celebrating the Island’s Automobile Love Affair (Motorbooks), talks about his experience in seeing—and not seeing—cars in Cuba. (You may be surprised to learn, as I was when going through the book, that while many people might just think of cars in Cuba as classic models that have been maintained in what appear to be wonderful ways (“There is,” they write in the book, “no such thing as a junkyard in Cuba because nothing ever totally wears out! Parts are used virtually forever”), there was actually a racing history in Cuba, such as the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix, which included Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, and Sterling Moss.)

After Warner leaves the set we discuss a number of topics, from the viability of electric vehicles for ordinary consumers to the changes in management at both Nissan (Carlos Ghosn is turning over the CEO position to Hiroto Saikawa, though he will continue to head the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance) and American Honda (John Mendel will retire as executive vice president and his duties will be assumed by Jeff Conrad).

And you can see it all here:

Ford Copies Nature
24. February 2017

As Nature (yes, capital N Nature) has done a pretty good job of designing things, it is somewhat surprising that Man (ditto) doesn’t follow Nature’s lead more often when it comes to designing objects.

There are some who do practice what is called “biomimicry” and the results tend to be good.

Consider, for example, the approach that Ford has taken in developing the four-way parcel shelf for the forthcoming 2018 EcoSport compact SUV.

They’ve utilized the model of the honeycomb for creating it.

EcoSport honeycomb cargo shelf

According to Mike Mazzella, Ford EcoSport assistant chief engineer, “The hexagonal design of honeycomb is a testament to nature’s ingenuity. Not only is it strong, it’s superlight.”

Specifically, the recycled paper honeycomb material that Ford is using results in a shelf that weighs six pounds and can handle nearly 700 pounds across its 38.5- by 25.25-inch surface.

The honeycomb structure is sandwiched between two pieces of composite material; water-based adhesive is used for bonding.

The shelf is designed so that it can be used in three positions (low, medium, high) in the cargo area, as well as simply taken out and stored vertically behind the rear seat.

Ford EcoSport

Hybrid—Not What You Think
23. February 2017

When you think “hybrid,” you probably think something like this:


But that’s not what equipment supplier KraussMaffei thinks. It is working with the Institute for Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology at Dresden University of Technology and other partners from industry and academia on a research project named “LEIKA,” which stands for Leichtbau in Karosseriebauteilen, or “lightweight construction in auto body components.”

So that idea of “hybrid” looks like this:


Photo: Dresden University of Technology/ILK

The hybrid is the material. In this case it is the center tunnel for an electric vehicle that consists of outer layers of steel and a core of carbon fiber reinforced polymer. (CFRP).

KraussMaffei has provided a system for the LEIKA lab about which Martin Würtele, Director of Injection Molding Technology Development at KraussMaffei, said, “The new lab system at the Institute for Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology allows us to form and back-inject FRP-metal hybrid materials in one step. The resulting process and structure quality, together with the achieved cycle times of significantly less than two minutes, supports the potential of such hybridization on both the material and production end.”

Würtele said, “The first test results are excellent. The mass is reduced by 25 percent compared to an all-metal lightweight construction solution. Simultaneously, it was possible to demonstrate comparable performance under the most important load conditions with regard to stiffness and crash situations for components with significantly lower mass."

With that kind of performance, clearly this kind of “hybrid” ought to be of serious interest to all OEMs.

The Discrete Charm of the EV
22. February 2017

Margot Robbie, in the 2015 film The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s 2010 book, is shown in a bubble bath.

Drinking champagne.

Explaining subprime mortgages.

If Robbie isn’t going to make you pay attention, it is hard to imagine what will.

Perhaps this is the rationale that Nissan has come up with not related to financial instruments but electric vehicles.

Nissan signs actor Margot Robbie as its first electric vehicle ambassador

Nissan has named Ms. Robbie its first “electric vehicle ambassador.”

Rather than putting her in a bath, they put her in a Nissan BladeGlider, a racing concept EV that hits 62 in fewer than five seconds and has a top speed of 118 mph.

To make it a bit more exotic, she is running the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. At midnight.

Nissan is the world leader in electric vehicle sales. The Leaf went on sale globally in December 2010. The Nissan-Renault Alliance has on offer a range of vehicles including the Nissan e-NV200 and Renault models ZOE, Kangoo Z.E van, SM3 Z.E. sedan and Twizy.

It accounts for about half of the sales of electric vehicles.

That said, between December 2010 and September 2016, the grand total of electric vehicles sold by the company was on the order of just 350,000 vehicles.

Perhaps Ms. Robbie will help.

Rationalization and PSA Sochaux
21. February 2017

Should PSA Group acquire Opel, which seems likely (and which may have already happened by the time you read this), there will be what is euphemistically called “rationalization” occurring regarding the companies’ facilities.

Said more simply: They’ll have to decide which ones they close.

It is a sure bet that the PSA Sochaux plant, located in eastern France, won’t close.


That’s because for the past three years they’ve been working on a production transformation program, “Sochaux 2022,” which includes the installation of a new transfer press line, capable of stamping both steel and aluminum parts, which is said to be the first such line acquired in France in the past 20 years.

It is worth noting that this plant has been around for more than a while: It opened in 1912.

The goal of the transformation program is to be able to produce six different types of vehicles with a total volume of 400,000 units per year.

They’re working on utilizing parts kitting, more ergonomic workstations and improved logistics in the transformation.

There have been in excess of 60,000 training hours at the plant so far for the improvement.

According to Maxime Picat, PSA Executive Vice President, Operational Director Europe: "Today, Sochaux produces emblematic cars for the PSA Group, including the new Peugeot 3008 which has been a huge commercial success, and will begin to manufacture vehicles for the Opel brand.”

This is probably not a preemptive comment about the acquisition because the EMP2 vehicle architecture that’s used for the Peugeot 3008 and 5008 models is also being used for the new Opel Grandland X SUV, so it only seems rational. . . .

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