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.

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. . . .

Adient, Diesels and Artificial Intelligence
20. February 2017

Did you ever wonder about how interior designers go about developing seats for vehicles? How they think. What methodologies they use. What the parameters are.

We did. So we asked Tom Gould, Director of Design, Research & Craftsmanship, Adient, to explain it to us on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”


Adient’s AI17, a concept seating solution for Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous vehicles

Adient, if you’re not familiar with it, is the former Johnson Controls Automotive Experience seating business which became a company onto itself this past fall. The company produces seats and components for some 25,000,000 million annually, seats that find their way into vehicles in 33 countries, and so Gould and his colleagues have an extensive breadth of knowledge of seats that are now—and seats that could be at some point.

So we learn about different approaches to designs and materials for existing vehicles as well as learn about things that may be deployed at some point in the not-too-distant future, when vehicles become more automated and so interiors become all the more important.

Gould talks with Autoline’s John McElroy, Todd Lassa of Automobile magazine and me about the trends and developments in seating.

The EPA has certified all-new 2017 Cruze Diesel Sedan with the six-speed manual transmission to achieve 52 mpg highway mileage – the highest highway fuel economy of any non-hybrid in America.

Chevy Cruze Diesel

Then the three of us discuss a variety of subjects including the 137-hp, 240 lb-ft of torque, 1.6-liter turbo-diesel that Chevy is offering in the Cruze. (This Ecotec will also find its way into the next Equinox.) Do diesels have a future in passenger cars in the U.S.? And that segues into a discussion of hybrid vehicles.

Another subject is the probable acquisition of Opel by PSA Group, which would result in the second-largest auto company, based on sales, in Europe. PSA presently has about 10.5% of the market and Opel 6.3%. VW is at 22.4%. (Interestingly, Carlos Tavares, PSA Group CEO, had previously been a senior executive at Renault—a company that will go into third place in the western European market should the acquisition go through.)

And we talk about Ford’s $5-billion investment in Argo AI, a company that will be tasked with developing the “virtual driver system” for Ford’s forthcoming Level 4 autonomous vehicle, which is still anticipated for launch in mobility services in 2021.

You can see it all here:

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