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.

2017 Audi Q7 3.0T quattro tiptronic
7. December 2016

Here’s something important to know about the 2017 Audi Q7 as it is a vehicle that seats seven and, consequently, is likely to carry passengers: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded it with the Top Safety Pick+ designation, which is the highest possible rating from IIHS for 2016.

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There are two aspects to achieving this high rating. One is structural. The other is safety tech. The first is about crashworthiness under a number of conditions, so know that the vehicle is fundamentally constructed for keeping the driver and passengers safe.

Although there is an extensive use of aluminum throughout the vehicle to reduce overall mass, hot-stamped steel (the reason that it is hot stamped is because it is so hard that it is necessary to use heat to soften it up so that it can be formed, but when it cools it becomes really strong again) is used to create the passenger cell (e.g., the B-pillars, side sills, etc.).

But it is worth noting that they are such things as highly engineered aluminum components such as the front longitudinal members that absorb energy in the case of collisions.

So that’s the structural aspect.

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The surface ahead of that knurled knob allows navigation input by spelling out the place or address with your finger: there’s handwriting recognition

As for the other part, the crash avoidance and mitigation, the Q7 is rated by IIHS as “superior” thanks to its “pre sensing” system operates at speeds up to 52 mph and that helps prevent or lessen the severity of collisions. The front camera (located by the rearview mirror) looks out ahead of the vehicle by 328 feet (a.k.a., 100 meters). Should it detect that there is a potential intersection with another vehicle or pedestrian, it warns the driver and deploys automatic braking if necessary. Audi calculates that at speeds up to 24.9 mph the system can avoid accidents. At speeds higher than that, it reduces the impact. What’s interesting to note is that the system actuates the brakes in such a way that skidding—and potentially additional collisions—is avoided. What’s more, the front seat belts are electrically tightened, and if the windows and sunroof (and know that the Q7 offers a MASSIVE two-panel sunroof) are opened, they’re automatically closed.

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Yes, that’s Google Earth on that screen

The second-generation Q7 is a big car. An imposing vehicle. It is more than 16-feet long. More than 6.5-feet wide. It is over 5.5-feet high. Big.

Yet thanks, in large part, to the aforementioned materials, the engineers have managed to make the Q7 comparatively light.

Why do you care how much it weighs?

Simple: because it has a considerable effect on handling dynamics, and when you’re piloting something as large and as massive (yes, it is light but you’re still leading with 4,938 pounds), you want all the advantages you can get.

It should be noted that the vehicle—as one should expect from a full-size SUV, offers quattro drive, which means permanent all-wheel-drive capability for those untoward conditions. (Under normal circumstances, the center differential distributes power front to rear 40/60; in the event of grip loss, as much as 70 percent of the power can go to the front and as much as 85 percent to the rear.) Also, there is wheel selective torque control that uses braking to adjust wheel torque during cornering.

In addition to which there is the ability to select from drive modes “efficiency,” “comfort,” “auto,” “dynamic,” “individual,” and “offroad.”

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As regards power, there is a supercharged 333-hp V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to Audi it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.

And in terms of the interior: know that Audi has been the benchmark for interior quality for many years. It still is.

Engine: 3.0- liter TFSI quattro, 333 hp// Transmission: Eight-speed automatic//Cargo volume: Seats folded, 71.6-cu. ft.; Seats up: 14.8-cu. ft. second row folded// Fuel economy: 19/25/21 city/highway/combined mpg

Beer, Data & Big Rigs
6. December 2016

A few weeks ago, a self-driving semi carrying 50,000 cans of Budweiser traveled 100 miles, from a weight station in Fort Collins, Colorado, to a depot in Colorado Springs. The 18-wheeler (a Volvo) was engineered with tech from Otto, a company owned by Uber. It uses two cameras for lane detection, LIDAR, two front-facing radar sensors, and GPS.

otto

There must be something about tech companies and big rigs.

Last week Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services (AWS), introduced the Snowmobile.

According to AWS, “Each Snowmobile comes with up to 100PB of storage capacity housed in a 45-foot long High Cube shipping container that measures 8 foot wide, 9.6 foot tall and has a curb weight of approximately 68,000 pounds. The ruggedized shipping container is tamper-resistant, water-resistant, temperature controlled, and GPS-tracked.”

Snowmobile

As for that 100PB: that’s 100 petabytes. If you were to write it out, it would look like this: 100,000,000,000,000,000.

The Snowmobile is driven to the site where you have massive amounts of data to be stored, hook it up to the trailer, and “in as quickly as a few weeks,” the data is stored on board, ready to go somewhere to be securely stored.

AWS says that data migration of this scale had previously required years.

Yes, years.

But what if you don’t have 10PB of data or more?

Then there’s Snowball, designed for a more modest amount of data.

Alfa Romeo Giulia in Depth
5. December 2016

Say you’re looking for a premium sport sedan. Say you’re looking for one that has not only four doors (let’s face it, sometimes you’ve got to take the family somewhere) but a 2.9-liter, bi-turbo V6 that happens to generate 505 horsepower. Say that you’re looking for something that isn’t owned by every attorney, doctor and hedge-fund manager on your block.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Which pretty much means that you’re probably going to be looking for an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

What?!

Yes, a sedan that set a 7:32 lap at the Nürburgring, a record for a production four-door sedan. (A record set by one of the engineering development drivers for Alfa, not a professional race car driver. If you check out the video of the run, which you can see here, note that he’s wearing regular street clothes, not an exotic racing jumpsuit.  But don’t try it at home.)

Although Alfa is a brand that has been absent from the U.S. market for a number of years, the Giulia (which is also available in models with a 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four that provides 280 hp and has a 0 to 60 mph time of <5.1 seconds), is certainly going to bring more than a modicum of visibility to the company whose theme is “La meccanica delle emozioni”—the mechanics of emotion.

The Giulia is a machine. A stylish, powerful machine.

After having spent a day driving a Giulia in northern California, I had the opportunity, joined by Tim Stevens, editor of Roadshow, to sit down and talk with Reid Bigland, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Richard Cox, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati global product planning, and Fabio Di Muro, vehicle line executive for the Giulia.

All of which is to say that we’ve got the guys who not only are instrumental in the launch of the Giulia on the roads here and in other places around the world, but people who have a huge effect on the entire Alfa endeavors.

Then Tim and I are joined on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” by Rebecca Lindland, senior director, Commercial Insights, KBB.com, and Tony Quiroga, senior editor, Car and Driver, who then talk about the Giulia in particular from the points of view of market (Rebecca), driving dynamics (Tony) and technology (Tim).

And you can see it all here:

2016 Audi TTS
2. December 2016

Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who is well known in the design community for his 10 principles of good design. Know that one of the predicates to his approach is that “less is more.”

Which gets to the point of item 10 on the list which is that Good Design “Is as little design as possible.”

In other words, there ought to be a certain essential purity to the overall design of the object so that it just is.

That comes to mind in the context of the Audi TTS coupe.

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Yes, yes, it is a car. It is essentially a car, but as it is essentially a medium of transportation for two that is executed in such a way—inside and out—that everything seems right. Purposed.

One might argue that it is something that one could simply sit in and feel surrounded in a comfortable, competent environment. (Which, someone else might argue, means that it is like a sculpture on the outside and a red leather-clad and technology-equipped object on the inside, and so it isn’t, perhaps more than a car.)

Or someone (like me) could argue that it is something that you could put inside a gallery and its sculptural nature would be sufficient for it to simply be.

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But, of course, people buy cars to drive, and in that regard the TTS is not in the least bit lacking.

There’s a turbocharged 292-hp four cylinder engine that, according to Audi, provides a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed—top track speed in the company’s parlance (along with the warning: “Top rack speed electronically limited in the U.S. Always obey speed and traffic laws”)—of 155 mph.

The TTS has a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that is smoothly calibrated so that the shifts click into place without the whiplash characteristic of some other dual-clutch systems; there is all-wheel drive (quattro).

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Not surprisingly, there are full LED headlights and LED taillights (had Audi patented LEDs for vehicle lighting when it first brought them out as daytime running lights, Volkswagen Group would have its coffers full). The grille continues to be a comparatively massive maw, yet despite the low, wide vehicle, it seems completely proportionate.

Inside, it is metal and leather. And silicon. Yes, there’s Google Maps that provides simulated reality for routing.

One more principle from Rams: “Good Design Is Honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”

And that is the Audi TTS. It is authentic. It delivers. And that’s precisely what matters for something that is well designed and well-engineered.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four, 2922 hp// Transmission: Six-speed S tronic (dual clutch)//Seating: 2//Luggage capacity: 12 cu. ft. // Fuel economy: 23/27/25 city/highway/combined mpg

Mazda CX-5 Starts Production
1. December 2016

This didn’t take long.

The second-generation Mazda CX-5 was introduced at the L.A. Auto Show on November 15. Mazda announced that the vehicle went into production at the Ujina Plant No. 2 in Hiroshima on November 27.

The vehicle will launch first in Japan, in February 2017.

CX5

Start of production for the first-generation model was in November 2011. In April 2015 it reached a cumulative 1-million units, which made the crossover the second-fastest Mazda to hit that number, with the Mazda3 taking first place.

Through October of this year Mazda has produced 1.57-million CX-5s.

For the 2017 model, one of the most notable features is what is supposed to be launched in the second half of next year in the crossover: the SKYACTIV-D 2.2 engine.

That’s “D” as in diesel. Yes, long-promised, but Mazda says that this time the diesel will be coming to the U.S. market in the second half of 2017.

According to Mazda, this engine features two proprietary technologies, “Natural Sound Smoother” and “Natural Sound Frequency Control,” which “reduce diesel knock for a quieter and more pleasing sound.”

As Masaya Kodama, program manager for the CX-5, describes the new car, its development and production, “There is something unique about the way Mazda makes cars, with an abiding thirst for challenge and uncompromising convictions about how vehicles should be engineered and why. I believe that this is the path we were destined to follow. I also believe that the all-new CX-5—born of a desire to provide every driver and their passengers with driving pleasure and a deeper relationship with the car—will delight customers and enrich their lives.”

That’s a lot for a compact crossover to carry.




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