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.

Tesla Addresses Air Quality
3. May 2016

When it comes to Tesla, things like “Ludicrous Mode” have a certain “we’re-not-taking-ourselves-too-seriously” aspect to them. But the “Bioweapon Defense Mode,” the name of the HEPA air filtration system that’s used in the cabins of the Model S and the Model X sounds about as funny as your entire neighborhood suddenly being overrun by zombies.

“Bioweapon”? Sounds a bit extreme. Ludicrous, perhaps.

But Tesla has pointed out just how bad bad air really is.

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The company cites figures from the World Health Organization on the amounts of PM2.5 levels—that’s particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter—found in various cities around the world. The average annual figures for various cities are: 56 µg/m³ in Beijing, 25 µg/m³ in Mexico City, 21 µg/m³ in Hong Kong, 20 µg/m³ in Los Angeles, 20 µg/m³ in Berlin, 17 µg/m³ in Paris and 16 µg/m³ in London.

Which doesn’t mean a whole lot until you take into account that, again according to Tesla, a 2013 study conducted at Harvard indicates that people who live in those locales don’t live as long as they might were they not breathing in all of those particles: population-averaged life expectancy reductions of 23 months in Beijing, 10 months in Mexico City, 9 months in Hong Kong, 8 months in Berlin and Los Angeles, and 7 months in Paris and London.

In developing their system they put a Model X in a sealed container and filled said bag with 1,000 µg/m³ of PM2.5. They activated the Bioweapon Defense Mode and the results look like this:

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Which is great for those who have the system in their Model S and Model X vehicles. But for the rest of us—particularly those in the aforementioned cities—bad air isn’t particularly funny.

Jaguar Land Rover Takes to the Water
3. May 2016

This is something that’s not ordinarily seen on this page as, well, it isn’t a motor vehicle:

LandRover

That’s right. It has a sail. No motor.

More to the point, it is the Land Rover BAR, a boat that’s built for the America’s Cup regatta, which will be held in Bermuda in 2017.

Now, just because the name “Land Rover” is part of the name of the yacht isn’t the reason why we’re running it here (although it could be).

It’s actually because two members of the British America’s Cup team participated in something that’s familiar to vehicle development engineers: wind tunnel testing.

That’s right: they were determining the aero of the Land Rover BAR boat.

Sailors Leigh McMillan and Matt Cornwell went to the Motor Industry Research Association facility east of Birmingham in the UK and spent three days of wind tunnel testing.

They were able to get speeds up to 60 mph and as is the case with car exterior development in the tunnel, smoke wands were used so that engineers were able to see the flow of air not only around the hull of the boat, but the sailors’ bodies, too.

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Explained Cornwell, “As professional sailors we are always looking at ways to make marginal gains, no matter how small, that will help make the difference between winning and losing. As we reach speeds of over 50 mph on the water, we need to ensure we understand the impact our positions and movement have on the aerodynamic efficiency of the boat.”

Tony Harper, head of Research, Jaguar Land Rover said, “These facilities are integral to further our automotive aerodynamic research and development, so to work with the sailing team in this testing environment is of fundamental importance. The team is utilizing our expertise in aerodynamics design. The sailors are the only source of power available to control the wingsail and hydrofoils and the more aerodynamically efficient they are when they do that work the better and faster the boat will sail.

“Together, the wing and crew can generate over 100 bhp - enough to propel two-tons of boat and its six man crew across the water at over 50 mph."

And realize that’s 50 mph while standing on a surface that is undoubtedly on an angle that’s wet and probably getting wetter as the race goes on.

Knowing how to work under those conditions is critical.

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The Artisanal Bentley
2. May 2016

One of the characteristics of manufacturing in China is that the country’s factories churn out literally billions of products per year. It takes mass production to levels that would make Adam Smith’s, Frederick Taylor’s and Henry Ford’s heads explode.

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Be that as it may, it seems as though the Chinese—like many people in other parts of the world—are more interested in an artisanal approach to some of the products that they consume.

Case in point: Bentley launched the Mulsanne First Edition models exclusively in China. There are three models: the Mulsanne, the Mulsanne Speed and the Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase.

These vehicles—which add luxury on top of luxury—are not only first editions, but they are a limited edition, as well: there are going to be 50 produced. Period.

These cars are “handcrafted in Crewe,” built by the technicians in the Bentley plant there.

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Bentley, like all automobile manufacturers, likes to see increased sales. But what is an increase to that company is significantly different than what it is for your typical full-line manufacturer.

Last year the company delivered 10,100 vehicles—globally.

The biggest market was North America: 2,864.

Still, it is interesting that there is a recognition that uniqueness matters even in markets where products are made in relentless multitudes, and so even though by its very nature it is a limited-production purveyor of motor vehicles, there is even more exclusivity that can be achieved.

Lincoln Continental’s Light Touch
28. April 2016

Lincoln is making another move to help differentiate its products in the luxury market, this time for the forthcoming 2017 Continental sedan, taking a cue from a successful technical implementation first used on its MKC crossover.

It is deploying what it is calling “Approach Detection” technology, something that you can only appreciate at night, as it is a subtle lightshow, not something of Fillmore West proportions.

Lincoln

Get close to the Continental—about eight feet—with the keyfob on your person and, assuming that it is ambiently dark, the show begins. LED lights on the exterior glow, guiding your approach. There are so-called “puddle lights” that project from the bottoms of the side-view mirrors, creating a Bat signal on the pavement outside of the driver’s and front passenger’s, but in the shape of the Lincoln mark. The objective is to provide the ability to see whether there is, well, a puddle outside the door, which you wouldn’t want to step in. Then the area around the door handles illuminate the handles, with the hue being predicated by the color of the vehicle. As you have dodged the puddle, now you can see where the door handles are.

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Having gotten into your Continental, then there are interior lights illuminated, softly, softly. The start button pulses, indicating that it is ready to be depressed, but you won’t be, it is hoped, given the greeting that the Continental has conveyed with the lights.

“This is a subtle touch that reinforces our commitment to give every Lincoln client what we call ‘quiet luxury’—vehicles and experiences that are elegant, effortlessly powerful and serene,” said Solomon Song, Lincoln exterior design manager. Certainly in the luxury space, where there are often exaggerated gestures, simple touches are all the nicer and more appreciated by those who have made the investment.

Sit on a Citroën
28. April 2016

One of the more-clever functional vehicle design elements that has appeared in some time was launched back in 2014 on the Citroën C4 Cactus, the Airbump that’s affixed to the body sides and bumpers of the car. The Airbump is just that: a thermoplastic polyurethane component that contains air. It provides protection to the vehicle from bumps (think door dings).

Citroen

Remember when Saturn used to point out that its doors were made of plastic (ABS/PC) and therefore resistant to shopping cart collisions?

Well, it seems that only the French could come up with something as stylish as the Airbump, which in addition to adding function, provide additional graphics to the vehicle design.

While in New York in March for the Auto Show I happened to notice more than a few Lexuses, Audis, BMWs, etc. with clunky-looking rubber mats or quasi-police-car-style rams affixed to the rear and front fascias, which are meant to minimize scratches and dents from city driving—and parking. Clearly the people in Paris are one up on them in this regard.

Anyway, yesterday we looked at furniture from Bugatti. And perhaps it is no surprise that Citroën engaged Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini to create a “concept” chair using Airbump technology, which was exhibited at the Milan Design Week.

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Said Bellini: “When Citroën Italy showed me Airbump technology, the first idea that came to mind on touching the material was to wonder whether I couldn't design a new chair with it, as light as an ordinary plastic chair but with all the comfort of a real upholstery.”

It may be a plastic chair, but it certainly goes beyond the ordinary.

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