Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel 2014

DSC_0528The “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel, How Technology is Transforming Automotive Powertrains, Retail, Connectivity and Autonomous Driving” Conference cosponsored by C3 (Connected Car Conferences) and WAJ was recently held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View Ca.

The informative conference was a series panel discussions and brought together automotive and technology industry experts  to discuss where the industry is headed. Read More.

June WAJ Members Meeting – June 18, 2014

Mark your Calendar for the next WAJ Members Meeting, June 18th starting at 6:00 PM. 2015-Ford-F-150-0This meetings program will feature Eric Peterson, Ford Motor Company’s F-150 Marketing Manager discussing the technology underneath the new F-150 pickup.  There’s more than aluminum involved in this all-new truck!     600px-Computer_History_Museum,_Mountain_View,_CAGary Anderson will share an update of the upcoming “Future Cars/Future Technology-Connected Cars”  Symposium which will take place at the Silicon Valley Computer History Museum on October 20th.       WAJ_header3It’s time for the 2014 WAJ Board of Directors elections.  We will have a lively discussion about board responsibilities and how you can become a candidate to help shape WAJ’s future.   June 18th from 6 to 8 PM. This dinner meeting will be held at: The Basque Cultural Center 599 Railroad Ave. So. San Francisco, CA 94080 650.583.8091 6 p.m. Social Hour 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 Purchase your advance tickets Here.

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

The WAJ Living Legends Series – Doreen Green

LeMans 1959

The year 2013 is the centennial for Aston Martin, one of the greatest marques in the history of the automobile. To help celebrate this occasion, WAJ was honored to have Doreen Green available to speak to us on Saturday, February 16, 2013 during lunch at YiPing Restaurant, 2416 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, CA.

[Aston Martin memories by Michael Green]

Doreen Green, then Doreen Sherwood, joined David Brown-Aston Martin in 1949 as a secretary. She would work for the drawing office crew, Professor Eberan von Eberhorst (of Auto-Union fame) who was to design the DB3, and racing team manager John Wyer when he joined Aston a short time later.

Aston Martin Le Mans 1959

Aston Martin wins LeMans 1959

Aston was a family affair, as Doreen’s two brother’s also worked at Aston Martin; Roger in the drawing office – whose claim to fame at the time was inserting “David Brown” onto the Aston Martin badge; and Brian, who started out in the sheet metal shop and became a panel beater.


At one point she had her own office, which was a big deal as the other girls didn’t. Over her seven-plus years there she became friends with many now famous people; her favorite being Peter Collins.

In the spring of ’54 a tall, lanky young man walked into her office wanting to see JW. He said he was here from America, and “I want to go racing.” Carroll Shelby had driven DB3S/3 at Sebring and was now in the UK to race in some local events. Doreen told him, “You just can’t show up, they have rules, so I’ll get your entry forms, we’ll see about getting you some start money”… and then she went about contacting their suppliers for some tires, brake parts and motor oil.

Doreen was rarely let out of her office, John Wyer preferring it that way. While he was away one day, Roy Parnell (and Peter), who was taking a DB3S to test at a local airfield, took Doreen along to keep notes and times. At one point she was in the passenger’s seat as they did laps. After a time Roy stopped the car and told Doreen to get into the driver’s seat. Giving her tips on holding the wheel at 3 & 9 o’clock positions, how to left foot brake, change gears and such. Before the day was out Doreen was doing better than a 100 mph down the straights in a DB3S! Even at 81+ years old (February 2013), Doreen still drives her supercharged Jaguar XJ8R the same way.

Doreen met her late husband Dickie Green in Feltham in 1952. Dickie had joined Wade Engineering in 1948. During his time at Wade, Dickie was at Aston often while they were fitting a supercharger to a DB3. He was there so much that John Wyer offered him a job. Thus Dickie joined Aston Martin in 1952 and became part of the racing department. His responsibilities included building, preparing and pitting for the team cars for all the significant races like Silverstone, Goodwood, LeMans, Monza, Mille Miglia and the Isle of Man.

For the 1955 season Dickie joined MG Competition Dept at BMC under Marcus Chambers, it was here he met Ken Miles, who’d come to drive the EX182 at LeMans that year. After the Monte Carlo Rally, on February 5, 1956, Dickie emigrated to California (Doreen followed in April). In order to enter the USA one would need a sponsor; enter one Ken Miles. The wealthy American was assembling a sports car racing team at that time, and Dickie was coming to California to be part of that team. When he arrived Ken met him at Customs, and shortly thereafter was told that the team was no more. With only $27 in his pocket, Ken left Dickie at a local Los Angeles motel and told him to go see this joker Tony in the morning. The next day Dickie walked a couple blocks to meet Tony Paravono. During the interview, Tony being Tony, he was being hardnosed about the job. Suddenly the phone rang and Dickie became part of the conversation. When Tony got off the phone, Dickie asked Tony,“Who was on the phone, if you don’t mind me asking?” “It was that goddamn Shelby!” Tony said. Thus Dickie was employed by Paravono taking care of his Ferraris, and in a very short time was the Shop Foreman.

In April Doreen came to America, and she too would need a sponsor, Tony Paravono was that sponsor!  Like any new resident, Dickie had to get a California drivers license. You’d never believe it, but Dickie went in Tony’s 250 TDF Ferrari! (This same car can be seen a few pages into this section, One day a young kid in a leather jacket riding a motorcycle comes into the shop and chats up Dickie… this was a young Dan Gurney. Dickie convinced Tony to test Dan at Willow Springs in the “coupe”, meaning the TDF Ferrari. During the test all was going well until Dan went off the road and blew a hole in the fuel tank. Tony went mad! As Doreen tells it, he was standing next to her, he got very vocal and nasty… “Get that goddamn kid out of my sight!” (when I saw Dan at Willow Spring in 1997 – I think – I was there racing my Ducatis and he’d come to watch… we talked about that test all those years before. Dan said, “It was the only job I was ever lost.”

During this time Dickie & Doreen had a wonderful time! They bought an XK140XMC from Joe Lubin, traveled about California to the races and met some of the (now great) drivers of that time. Carroll and Ken they already knew, now enter Dan Gurney, Skip Hudson, Phil Hill, Bobby Drake, Masten Gregory, Lance Reventlow, Steve McQueen, and mums favorite… Ritchie Ginther. Ritchie use to come to lunch every Sunday (when not racing) at Dickie & Doreen’s where he’d get Doreen to make tuna casserole!

Richard would again join Aston Martin in 1958, this time as Resident Engineer for David Brown-Aston Martin, based in San Leandro, CA. The Green’s involvement with Aston continued for many years thereafter.

Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Blackhawk Museum
3700 Blackhawk Museum
Danville, CA 94506

Western Automotive Journalists (WAJ), in conjunction with SAE International’s Mid-Cal Section, will host an event, “Silicon Valley Reinvents the Automobile” on Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, at the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, CA. The subject is nothing short of a reality check on the evolution of the automobile since Silicon Valley entered the car business. Almost all of the automakers worldwide have established a presence in Silicon Valley, listening and learning what the tech community it up to.

What’s been learned has been absorbed and has migrated into the cars we’re driving today and will likely have an even greater impact on cars of the near future. At this special meeting we will be highlighting technology and human interaction with technology as it relates cialis pas cher to the vehicle, specifically looking at what has been and is being developed in the Bay Area, including everything from infotainment, autonomous control, batteries, safety equipment, the connected car and more.

The program will feature a panel discussion from representatives of the auto industry’s Silicon Valley labs, a keynote speaker addressing what this “reinvented automobile” might be like and an audience of automotive journalists and industry professionals. The program will also feature displays and demonstrations from auto companies. Displays outside the museum will begin at 2 p.m., including Stanley, the fully-automated Volkswagen Touareg that won the DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005, the latest advanced vehicle project from engineering students at San Jose State University, a Volkswagen Jetta TDI that has been running on algae-based biofuel for the past year and a 2013 Ram with the UConnect system, named the 2012 Technology of the Year by AOL Autos.

In addition to the display vehicles, a ride-and-drive hosted by Volkswagen will demonstrate some of the features developed in Silicon Valley found in a Jetta Hybrid and Beetle TDI.

The panel discussion, moderated by Wired Magazine’s Damon Lavrinc, will start at 3:30 p.m. and include Catherine Lovazzano, a San Francisco-based “futurist” (Senior Manager, Consumer Trends and Foresight) for Chrysler/Fiat; Dan Phillips, who’ll be giving the first public report on Solazyme‘s year-long 100% algal-based biodiesel project with Volkswagen, Chunhee Lee, deputy director of Volkswagen’s ERL in Belmont (CA) and others. There will be additional panelists. After a Q&A session, the panel will conclude at 5 p.m. A social hour will give attendees a chance to review the afternoon’s discussion and tour the museum.

Dinner and keynote will begin at 6:15 p.m. Sven Beiker, executive director of Stanford University’s CARS program, will speak on “What Silicon Valley can offer the auto industry” and Andrew Smart, director of society programs and industry relations for SAE International will address “What automotive engineers need from Silicon Valley.”

Time will be allotted for a vigorous question-and-answer period.

More information on the speakers will be forthcoming shortly, but you can reserve your place at the event here.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Paul Ingrassia

Thursday, May 24th
Basque Cultural Center

6:00 PM Dinner
7:00 PM WAJ Meeting
7:30 PM Featured Speaker: Pulitzer Prize winning author Paul Ingrassia
Subject: His new book “ENGINES OF CHANGE: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars”

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has chronicled the auto industry for more than 25 years, and the current deputy editor-in-chief of Reuters, Paul Ingrassia traces the cultural evolution of America through 15 cars that helped define a nation: DeLorean’s Corvette, the VW Beetle, the Chevy Corvair, Robert McNamara and Lee Iacocca’s Mustang, the Pontiac GTO, Honda’s Accord, the BMW 3 Series, and the Jeep, among others. ENGINES OF CHANGE details the rise of American manufacturing, the suburbanization of the country, the birth of the Hippy and the Yuppy, the emancipation of women and the unintended consequences of trial lawyers, energy crises, and pollution.


Erich Merkle on the Future of Ford

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Basque Cultural Center
599 Railroad Ave

South San Francisco, CA 94080

Since Alan Mulally took charge Ford, has been on a tear, producing well-received products one after another. Take a peek behind the curtain and meet one of the chief strategists/architects who helped Ford gain the momentum it has today. And, have the opportunity to learn about what direction he thinks Ford might take in what could be a tumultuous market.  What does Ford have up its sleeve next?

Erich Merkle, top US Sales Analyst for Ford, was awarded the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA) most accurate North American Light Vehicle Production Forecast in 2004 and in 2007. Erich has become Ford’s point person for analyzing auto industry trends, demographics, and vehicle design reviews, as it relates to the rapidly changing automotive landscape. Erich has been the Practice Leader – Automotive and Economic Analysis, Crowe Horwath LLP, Vice President of Forecasting IRN Inc.