Autofield Blog

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.

GM: The Drive to Profitability, Part 1

By: Gary S. Vasilash 5. February 2016

General Motors released rather impressive numbers for 2015. As in: calendar-year net income attributable to common stockholders of $9.7-billion, or $5.91 per diluted share, up from $2.8-billion, or $1.65 per diluted share in 2014. Earnings per share (EPS) adjusted for special items was $5.02, up 65% compared to $3.05 in 2014.

Full-year earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) adjusted rose to a record $10.8-billion, up from $6.5-billion in 2014. EBIT adjusted margin for the year also increased, to a record 7.1%, compared to 4.2% in 2014.

Clearly the company is in a mode that is moving with some momentum in the appropriate direction. Shareholders are happy; the company returned $5.7-billion to shareholders in 2015. Workers must be chuffed, too; GM will be providing profit sharing of up to $11,000 to approximately 49,600 eligible GM U.S. hourly employees. 

GMMaryBarra107.jpg

Mary Barra, in 2014, when she was named GM CEO

What is different about GM today than from the GM of, say, 10 years ago is that the people at the company are doing the right things right.

That is, they are providing a lineup of cars and trucks that they don’t merely proclaim are good, but really are good.

The GM of yore was quick to boast about products that were massively mediocre. It made one wonder whether anyone at the company had even sat in a Camry or an Accord. Sure, the company, back then, sold plenty of trucks while Toyota’s Tundra was almost a rounding error on a sales spreadsheet, but that was probably more about the exceedingly brand-loyal consumer than it was about the Tundra not being a good truck. This is not to say that the Silverado and Sierra weren’t top-notch machines, but that the sales of those products, perhaps, gave the top people at GM a false sense of their ability to execute always and everywhere at world-class levels.

Those who thought that Mary Barra got her job because of a gender consideration or for some other non-performance related issue have certainly had their comeuppance. The whole ignition switch debacle would have left lesser people completely spent and would have had a statement made about them that they’re “leaving the company to spend more time with their families,” but not only did Barra persevere and address the issue head on, it is almost as though she came out stronger.

And now she’s the CEO of an auto company that reported those numbers.

It isn’t all her, of course. High marks have to go to Mark Reuss, who has proven he knows product development—and especially what products to develop. And Ed Welburn over at Design hasn’t merely refined the portfolio of offerings, he’s pretty much taken the opportunity to transform how each of the four brands are presented to the world.

Yes, they’re doing it right.

Leave the Fueling to Them

By: Gary S. Vasilash 4. February 2016

While it might seem as though Silicon Valley is all about Tesla Model S or X, electric vehicles both, or even the tiny little Google car that is without a gasoline fuel filler door (because it is electric, too).

But apparently there are more than a few gasoline powered cars out in places like Palo Alto and Menlo Park because a new on-demand gasoline delivery start-up has launched.

wefuel

That’s right: use an app on your Apple phone (Android drivers will get their app in the spring) and a WeFuel delivery truck will arrive within 30 minutes to fuel your car.

Explained co-founder and CEO Ale Donzis, "Technology has transformed our lives, but we are buying gas the same way we did more than 100 years ago. A new level of convenience is long overdue, but creating a connected platform to replace the gas station in a safe, secure and scalable fashion is not trivial. Our solution, which is executed perfectly from the start, features the highest standards for safety and customer service."

This isn’t like the AAA guy coming with some fuel after your car has run out of gas on the side of the road. This is sort of like pizza delivery.

At this point, you have to be with your vehicle. But they’re working on “WeFuel Driveo,” which is described as a “proprietary internet-enabled device that will allow a WeFuel technician to refuel any vehicle without the owner being present.”

It will locate your car, determine the amount of required fuel, pop the fuel hatch, and when you return to your vehicle, it is fueled and ready to roll.

Of course, by having your gasoline delivered to you means that you miss out on things like those hotdogs endlessly rotating under lights for days on end or burnt coffee.

While it is unlikely that they’ll have leathery wieners on offer, they do to plan to have “common convenience store products including snacks” on its app menu by later this year.

Yum.

The Volkswagen Wedge

By: Gary S. Vasilash 3. February 2016

At a car show being held this week in Bremen, Germany, the Autostadt, the Volkswagen Group automotive theme park, museum and delivery center in Wolfsburg (2.42- million visitors were there in 2015, which just goes to show you how important automobiles are in Europe), is having an exhibit of “wedge-shaped” cars.

Credit: Ralph Kremlitschka

Explained Autostadt CEO Otto F. Wachs, "The wedge shape has a special meaning in automotive design. In the 1960s, carmakers started replacing classic pontoon styling with the wedge shape characterized by the upward sweeping lines that are still popular today. Following the Beetle era, the Scirocco and Golf models marked the beginning of a successful new chapter in Volkswagen history.”

The Scirocco design was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The first model was introduced in 1974. That first generation was produced until 1980, during which time 504,153 were produced.

According to Wachs, the “car body designs featuring wedge shapes and sharp edges symbolized dynamism and innovative spirit.”

Lambo

Credit: Ralph Kremlitschka

Of course, the ultimate in wedge-shaped design is from another Volkswagen Group company, Lamborghini. The Autostadt ZeitHaus museum is bringing a Countach LP 400 from 1975 to the Bremen Classic Motorshow, as well as five first-generation Sciroccos.

2017 Hyundai Elantra & the State of the Industry

By: Gary S. Vasilash 1. February 2016

Although, as Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, explains, crossovers are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. market, the compact segment is something that cannot be overlooked nor underestimated. For example, in 2015 Toyota delivered 363,332 Corollas, which make it the #5 selling vehicle in the U.S. for the year (or the #2 best-selling car behind the Camry, as the top 3 spots are pickups). The Honda Civic, at 335,384 units, was #8 for 2015.

DAVID L. ZUCHOWSKI

And while the Hyundai Elantra had sales of 241,706, that is the best-selling Hyundai model, car or crossover, and it bested the likes of the Chevy Cruze (226,602) and the Ford Focus (202,478).

That was the fifth-generation Elantra. Now Hyundai is launching gen six.

And Zuchowski talks to John McElroy and me about the 2017 Elantra on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” from a patio in Imperial Beach, California, where the vehicle is being introduced to the press.

2017 Elantra Sedan

In addition to the Elantra, Zuchowski addresses a wide range of topics, including why he thinks more people are turning to crossovers in lieu of cars (people are looking for a multi-purpose vehicle) and how there is a strong potential for hydrogen-fueled vehicles (Hyundai is leasing hydrogen Tucsons in California). And he talks about Hyundai and the NFL (Hyundai is the official automotive sponsor of the league that apparently has a big game coming up fairly soon), the launch of the new Genesis channel, the outlook for sales, and a whole lot more.

Providing deeper insights into the new Elantra, we’re also joined by Scott Margason, Director, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America, and Michael Evanoff, Manager, Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America.

While capacity constraints (they’re building Elantras in Montgomery, Alabama, and Ulsan, South Korea) mean that they’re not going to be in Corolla territory with the Elantra anytime soon, the design, engineering and production of the vehicle are such that it will undoubtedly be giving Toyota (and Honda) a run for the money.

See it here:

Ducati Performance

By: Gary S. Vasilash 29. January 2016

Back in 2012 Audi bought Italian motorcycle manufacturer extraordinaire Ducati for €860-million which, at the time, probably seemed like a good idea. In some regards, it probably still is, because the company reported record 2015 sales, delivering 54,800 bikes globally, a 22% (9,683 units) increase over 2014.

Ducati1

The biggest market for Ducati is the U.S., where it had a 14% increase in sales.

Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson has been sputtering.

With the costs that will be associated in fixing the diesel engines in Volkswagens and Audis there has been some thought that Volkswagen Group might want to increase its funds by selling off units, such as Ducati, so presumably the 2014 performance would underscore the value of the motorcycle producer.

Moving on from managerial issues to design, Ducati revealed this week the draXter, a concept bike based on its XDiavel. While that bike is a cruiser, the designers in Ducati Design Center’s Advanced Design created a sports variant.

Ducati2

For example, the suspension and brakes are taken from the Ducati Panigale Superbike.

Lines and proportions are exaggerated to the extreme, underlining the performance racing aspect of the draXter.

The 90? It signifies Ducati’s anniversary that is being marked this year.




« Prev | | Next »

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom