Western Automotive Journalists August 27th Meeting

Mark your Calendar for the next WAJ Members Meeting, Aug 27th starting at 6:00 PM.

2015-jeep-renegadeThis meetings program will feature Jeep’s top marketing and design executives, Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design and Jim Morrison, Director of Jeep Brand Marketing, discussing Jeep’s new Renegade and the brand’s “State of the Union”.

If the success of the recently created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) relies to some extent on its North American assets, then Jeep clearly plays a crucial role. The iconic, ex-military sports utility brand has steadfastly maintained leadership and growth in a segment it created a few decades ago.

Few other brands could incite a revolt among loyalists the way Wrangler owners rebelled against rectangular headlights. And if Jeep dares produce a vehicle that can’t safely leave a paved road, you can be sure the loyalists will descend on headquarters with pitchforks.

So how does Jeep create products that embrace 21st century realities while honoring the past? Jeep’s top marketing and design executives will enlighten WAJ members and guests on Wednesday, August 27th starting at 6:00PM with Social time, with the dinner starting at 6:30PM. Prior to the meeting at 4:30PM, the all-new Renegade will be on static display along with a 2015 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee Altitude available for short drives

WAJ_header3The results are in for the 2014 WAJ Board of Directors elections.  We will be introducing the new Board at the meeting.


Join us for an informative and lively evening with Jeep and to welcome WAJ’s new board of directors.

August 27th from 6 to 8 PM.

This dinner meeting will be held at:
The Basque Cultural Center
599 Railroad Ave.
So. San Francisco, CA 94080

6 p.m. Social Time
6:30 p.m. Dinner

Dinner Choices:
• Osso Buco
• Chicken Chasseur
• Vegetarian Pasta

$31 in advance for members & associate members; $36 at the door
$36 in advance for non-members; $41 at the door
Credit cards and cash and checks accepted at the door

Eventbrite - Western Automotive Journalists August Meeting


Nominations for 2014 – 2015 WAJ Board of Directors are now open

A message from our interim President Brian Douglas:
I am pleased to announce that nominations for the 2014 – 2015 WAJ Board of Directors are now open. Any WAJ member can nominate any other WAJ member or themselves for any of the Board Positions.   

After serving as your interim president for the past eight months, I’ve learned quite a bit about our venerable organization and envision a great future for WAJ going forward. We’ve accomplished quite a bit and there’s much more to do. I’ve engaged members of WAJ on a few committees and found there are many members who are capable and willing to serve. It is now time to move forward with WAJ and to nominate and elect our 2014-2015 Board of Directors.

In that spirit, I’m pleased to nominate the following slate of members for the WAJ Board of Directors.

Secretary: Larry Rinek
Larry has served well in this capacity, keeping minutes of meetings, correspondence and input on WAJ issues. I’d like your support to retain Larry in this role.

Treasurer: Michael Coates
Michael has done an exemplary job as treasurer, not only keeping our books in order and providing timely P&L reports for events, he has served on committees (currently Future Technology) and always lends a hand when needed. Please support another term for Michael.

Executive VP Events: Alex Dykes
Alex produces detailed automotive videos for the Alex on Autos YouTube channel and his own website. He is also a regular contributor to The Truth About Cars. As a working journalist covering automotive products and news, Alex has professional working relationships with the movers and shakers in the automotive industry. That’s a key qualification for planning events like Media Days. He has attended Media Day events and knows what works well as well as what may need tweaking. Dykes also brings youthful energy and a fresh perspective to WAJ.

VP Membership: Akitomo Sugawara
Aki is the Content Producer/Editor for Yahoo’s automotive portal Motoramic. He is an active member of WAJ and shares our vision to add accredited automotive journalists to our membership roster. Sugawara is well connected with automakers and has opportunities to recruit new members in his travels. Aki would bring a fresh, new perspective to the WAJ board.

VP Publications: Jon Rosner
Jon has served not only as membership VP, but has volunteered for extra tasks that have included putting phone banks together to build attendance for our bi-monthly meetings. Jon enthusiastically supports Sugawara as Membership VP and looks forward to enhancing the WAJ website and our social media portals along with publishing our Media Guide.

VP Programs: Charlie Vogelheim
Charlie is a thorough professional in our business, with a background that includes key positions at Kelly Blue Book, J.D. Power and Intellichoice. He’s currently the Editor and Host of Motor Trend Audio.  Charlie recently relocated to his native Marin from Southern California where he was active in developing programs and guest speakers for Motor Press Guild. He has also performed the same tasks for WAJ and currently serves on our Future Cars Future Technology committee.

Treasurer Michael Coates has nominated Brian Douglas to continue as President of WAJ:
Along with a long history of leadership and participation in WAJ, Brian has demonstrated in his recent term as interim president that he is willing to bring a sense of vision and forward momentum to the group. I feel he has been willing to lead and listen and is dedicated to making WAJ a stronger and better organization. I ask for your support for Brian for a full term.

How can you nominate other WAJ members (or yourself) for any of these positions?  Send your nominations along with a brief statement of qualifications to Larry Rinek no later than July 15, 2014.  . Please be sure that your nomination is willing and able to serve if elected.  If you have questions about the duties of the WAJ Board members or about the nomination and election process, please contact Larry Rinek or Brian Douglas.

The election process will be as follows:

  •  July 15, 2014: Nominations are closed
  • July 18, 2014: Paper ballots will be mailed to all WAJ members in good standing to their address of record.
  • August 4, 2013: Ballots must be received for counting
  • August WAJ meeting: Results announced

Ford’s Confident In Its Aluminum-Intensive 2015 F-150 Because Customers Have Already Tested It

Ford didn’t decide to make its revolutionary move to an aluminum body in its best-selling F-150 pickups quickly–or without undertaking its most extensive testing program ever. DSC_0302Eric Peterson, the F-150’s marketing manager, detailed Ford’s process with what many in the industry are calling a “game-changing truck” to Western Automotive Journalists members and guests at the June 18, 2014, meeting.

The 2015 F-150 that goes on sale in late 2014 will be up to 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor through the use of aluminum, high-strength steel and other moves such as a smaller, lighter engine, Peterson said. Because Ford knew its truck buyers were not early adopters of new technology, they knew they were taking a risk.

Aluminum F-150To mitigate that risk, Ford ended up putting two million more test miles on the 2015 model than they had on its previous generation. They also pulled a few new tricks, such as giving six prototypes to three companies without telling them they had aluminum beds. Those three companies–a mining company, an energy company and a construction company–were told to “drive them like you stole them” and “run ‘em like you want to break it.” The companies obliged and ended up feeding more information into the development cycle while fundamentally validating the viability of the new configuration.

In another unconventional test, Ford took one of the new aluminum trucks, disguised as a current model, to Mexico to compete in the Baja off-road race. In that case they were also testing the new downsized 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that be one of the key powerplants for the new F-150.

The testing convinced Ford that it was not risking its 37 years of truck sales leadership by this bold move. It has shaken up the tradition-bound pickup market, which is being challenged because of new fuel economy standards. Ford’s chief rival, General Motors, is pursuing a strategy of introducing a midsize pickup and adding a diesel engine; cross-town rival Chrysler (or Fiat Chrysler Automotive as it is now known) has already added a diesel engine to its Ram pickup. Toyota has hinted about hybridizing its pickup although it also has the compact Tacoma to hedge its fuel economy bets. Nissan, like Chrysler, is adding a diesel engine and, like Toyota, has a smaller pickup in its lineup.

The biggest differentiator in Ford’s strategy was a point Peterson emphasized several times in his presentation and in answer to questions. The move lightweighting move Ford is making positively impacts all of its pickups, where a new engine or even a new model will only affect a portion of the fleet. The strategy is clear and Ford has done its homework with its customers; we’ll now wait to see if the market responds positively to the new truck when it hits the showrooms this fall.

Michael Coates, Senior Editor

Ricardo Rodriguez-Long Awarded MIC Chairman’s Award

Ricardo Chair's manIRVINE, Calif., Oct. 30, 2013 – Ricardo Rodriguez-Long is the first Hispanic journalist in the 99 years of the organization to receive the Motorcycle Industry Council Chairman’s award, for excellence in media and outreach. Ricardo joins a select group of recipients that included in the past Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

A longtime friend to the industry, Rodriguez-Long has helped the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Motorcycle Industry Council by increasing their reach to the Hispanic community at large and generating Spanish-language public service announcements that encourage safe riding. Ricardo assisted the Motorcycle Industry Council with an upcoming tire guide video in Spanish, and he’s behind numerous Hispanic broadcast and online media placements featuring a wide variety of motorcycles. His 25 year career in the automotive industry with numerous awards is unparalleled. Since 2004, he has been an on-air radio host on the weekly Garage Latino at 690 AM in Southern California. The show reaches over 250,000 Hispanic’s every week and has a
companion website.

“Being a Hispanic immigrant has given me the understanding of the nuances and differences among all different ethnicities that make America great,” Rodriguez-Long writes. “I am not sure when I became the ‘vehicle’ to pass along useful information between the general market and Hispanics, but it’s a role I am very comfortable with. Credibility and access to accurate information has always been important to me.”

Since arriving, Ricardo Rodriguez-Long’s journalistic excellence has led him to create the first Spanish automotive radio program in the U.S., which is still on air; the first Spanish language trucking magazine; and the first automotive TV show in Spanish in the U.S., which has also featured motorcycles.

About the Motorcycle Industry Council
The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at www.mic.org.