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.

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.

Mulsannefirstedition

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.

Mulsanneextendedwheelbase

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.

Lincoln1

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.

BelliniTheFablab

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.

Citroen2

Bugatti for the Rumpus Room
27. April 2016

Obviously, when the price tag for the Bugatti Chiron is on the order of $2.6-million, chances are good that there aren’t going to be a whole lot of garages that have the supercar in their garages.

Bugatti

So to, perhaps, address an unmet, unattainable need, Etienne Salome, head of Bugatti Interior Design, in consultation with Italian architecture Carlo Colombo, created a suite of products. . .for the Bugatti Home Collection.

That’s right, stationary objects like tables and chairs, not something that has 1500-hp and a top speed of 261-mph.

According to Massimiliano Ferrari, Head of Bugatti Brand Lifestyle for Bugatti Automobiles, “Our distinctive character is increasing moving towards a Bugatti global lifestyle.”

Which, of course, means furniture.

So to encapsulate the Bugatti-ness, they’ve incorporated elements of the vehicles’ designs into the various pieces of furniture, such as a take on the horseshoe-shaped grille.

One of the more-fascinating pieces is the Royale Sofa. Of course, the front surface is rich, luxurious leather:

 

Bugatti1

But it’s what’s in the back that’s most fascinating:

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The arms and the back are molded from a single, blue carbon fiber component.

Of course it is.

Major Manufacturing Money for Michigan (well, Ohio, too)
26. April 2016

The Ford Livonia Transmission Plant is about four miles due east of the AD&P Plymouth office, so we are delighted to learn that the vehicle manufacturer is making a $1.4-billion investment in the plant, where a six-speed automatic is presently being produced for a variety of hot-selling vehicles such as the Mustang and the F-150, and which will be starting production of a 10-speed automatic in June, which will be used in such vehicles as the new F-150 Raptor.

Raptor

2017 Raptor

This investment, according to Ford, creates or retains 500 hourly jobs at the plant.

Livonia Transmission Plant

Inside Livonia Transmission

In addition to which, Ford announced that it is investing $200-million in its Ohio Assembly Plant, which produces the big brothers to the F-150, including the 350, 450, 550, 650, and 750 (the last two were brought back to the U.S. from Mexico last year, in case a certain politician is interested). The plant in Avon Lake also produces the E-Series cutaway vans and stripped chassis. The investment, which also means 150 hourly jobs, will be for Super Duty chassis cab production.

And today FCA US announced that it is investing $74.7-million in its Trenton Engine Complex, which is about 37 miles southeast of AD&P Plymouth.

(We can’t help it if we’re happy about some serious production investments around here.)

FCA is going to use the cash to retool a flexible production line, installed in 2012, at the Trenton North plant to produce a next-generation four-cylinder engine.

Pentastar

3.6-liter Pentastar

The engine, about which details are, well, nil (well, there’s increased power, improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions, but compared to what?), will go into production in Q3 2017. Some 245 jobs will be retained.

The new engine will replace production of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 at Trenton North. The Pentastar will continue to be manufactured at Trenton South, Mack Avenue Engine, and Saltillo South.




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