Friday, July 11, 2014

My Automotive Trip to Los Angeles During the Week of Mother’s Day 2014

Travel Skateboard Blazer Computer
First, I love my mother. Second, I am building a career in marketing with a focus on the automotive industry (hence this 7-year-old blog). When my mom and I, NSG Consulting Inc., talk about events for the year, there is an event called the Automotive News Marketing Seminar that is definitely at the top our list.

This year, the AN seminar was scheduled to take place two days after Mother’s Day.  Mom said, “[Your] flight is booked, you leave that Sunday.” It was kind of a bummer that I would not be able to spend Mother’s Day with her, but she wants to see me succeed and knows that events like the AN seminar are a great way to build the career I have been striving so deeply for. 

In the weeks leading up to the event, I made a connection with the editor of Electric Car Insider Magazine, Christopher Alan. We ended up talking via email and phone, and he asked me to join an electric car-driving event that would be happening just days before the AN seminar. The event was part of a West Coast Tour that is to be hosted by the magazine (ECIM) and the EV Quorum Car Club in Irvine, CA.

The West Coast Tour was developed by Chris as a way to provide the public with answers to speculations, questions, and interests about EV’s. Many dealerships seem to struggle in finding ways to successfully communicate in-depth information about EV’s that would lead to a better electric car industry and an increase in vehicle sales.  Therefore, the West Coast Tour was developed to educate the public, address questions and concerns of potential buyers, and build public awareness about the endless possibilities of EV’s.  The Tour includes the car club, Electric Car Insider Magazine, and personal owners of EV cars that permit registered attendees to sit in the driver seat and drive their cars with no selling pressure—just a passion and an inquisitive mind.

To make it to this unique driving event, I change my flight for a day earlier and of course, call my Mom on her special day as I’m driving down to Irvine early to help set up the event. I pull up and see two Tesla Model S’s (both with the big batteries—85kWh), a Fiat 500e, a Ford Focus Electric, and a remarkably beautiful Cadillac ELR hybrid.
Tesla Ford Fiat Cadillac
Tesla ModelS, Ford Focus Electric, Tesla ModelS, Fiat 500e, Cadillac ELR




Throughout the day, a group of us drive the EV’s and have great talks about the industry.  After driving, having lunch, and playing bocce ball with the team, we all break down the tents at the end of the day.  Chris invites me to join the team for dinner in Newport Beach to keep the EV conversations going.  (The crew still needs to charge before heading back down to San Diego, anyway!)

We pull into Newport Beach and discover that the electric car chargers at the mall are all occupied. We end up driving in a line of cars looking for chargers.  From the back of the line, it’s fun watching all of the people starring at the Cadillac and the bright Orange Fiat.  Eventually, we find a handful of charging stations down the road and plug in.  The crew jumps in my rental Nissan Versa to head to the restaurant as Cassidy (the newest ECIM employee) chuckles, “the life of an EV.”
The Fiat is lost?!
At dinner, I talk to Chris about the life of an EV owner, and ask the group all sorts of questions about batteries, Fisker Automotive, BMW’s “iBrand”, chargers, and where the magazine sees itself.  I’ve been learning a lot over the course of the day, and even more from what Chris says in accordance with my BMW question (which you can read here), and about the EV industry in general.

It was also interesting to get an insider’s view of the EV industry in general. Chris refers to the industry as a “petri-dish under a microscope.”

“You look at first and there is nothing. You come back days later, there is still nothing there. Then weeks and months into examination, all of the sudden, you see something! But it’s still too small to see what it is. Then a week later you see a little more, something is there and it’s getting bigger. A year into the study, you’ve witness the doubling effect, and BOOM! It’s Everywhere!”

Extended Range Cadillac Hybrid
Cadillac ELR
Thinking about Chris’s perspective, I begin wishing it could happen that fast —referring to the knowledge of the technology and availability of public chargers becoming more of a commonplace. But due to individual state policies and government officials that are still best friends with oil producers, the process is a bit slower than Chris’s analogy. In theory, I agree with Chris and hope to see it become a reality everywhere. 

There are challenges when it comes to gaining full support from policy makers, but I’m experiencing firsthand just how much EV’s are on the rise. Years ago, you may have seen only a single public charger, and it was always in a parking garage at a city building. Now, you’ll see them at places as common as coffee and sandwich shops, and Tesla has put enough “Superchargers” throughout the country to travel from coast to coast for FREE if you own a Model S. Everyone else pays only a couple of dollars to fully charge in under 30 minutes with the right adapter. To me, that is the “B” and “O” in the “BOOM!!”

In the effort to continue spreading awareness and growing the industry, Chris mentions prospects of an East Coast Tour. I tell him the east coast is still 3-5 years behind the west. He says, “Great! The purpose of the events is to educate, which sounds right up your coast.”

After dinner, high on life from the great friends I had just made (and the fantastic organic dishes we had just enjoyed), I’m grateful for the new insight gained and know that I will always suggest joining one of the Electric Car Guest Drive’s West Coast Tour stops to anyone who lives in California. I head back to my hotel, and after an eventful 13-hour day, upload my pictures. 

The next thing I know, Monday arrives. I work for a couple of hours in the morning and then head into the city to transfer hotels to the Westin in Downtown LA, where the Automotive News Marketing Seminar is hosted.

I drop off my bags and head to a skate park, where I end up skating with and watching one of my favorite professional skateboarder’s, Joey Brezinski. Another epic day. This dude and his friends, they all kill it and are the nicest guys in the world.

Tired and kicked out of the skate park at sunset, I head back to the Westin and take a nice hot bath to relax my exhausted legs and feet.  The seminar is tomorrow, and I need to be well rested.

The next morning, I wake up early, send a few emails for work, then suit up to meet and watch the presentations of marketing professionals from Lexus, Nissan, Mazda, and Hyundai. This is a great networking event and this year, I am not afraid to introduce myself and create a conversation with any random person or group. These “random” people are marketing professionals for TrueCar.com, Facebook, KBB.com, Tumblr, Amazon, Edmunds, USA Today…and the list goes on.  At some point, I end up having to go back to my room to get more business cards!

Before sitting down, I speak with Brian, who was presenting for Lexus. He has a few chuckles as I state my thoughts of last year’s presentation from the brand, given by a different person. He cracks a couple of jokes and I wish him good luck as I notice his mild nervousness after what I had to say.



After a lot of mingling, I sit at a table with a gentleman from Dominion who I met last year, and this time he brings someone big in Hyundai to join our table. All of the presentations end up being great, but Brian from Lexus shows his confidence as his presentation turns out to be the best out of the four, surpassing my expectations. 

The presentations come to a close and it is time for Q&A. The panel picks my question out of many, though I did not get the answer I was looking for.  Probably because I had ask to compare their brands to BMW in the form of a branding question referring to the "i" brand discussion I had with Chris the day prior. But at least Jason Stein, publisher and editor of Automotive News and host of the event, thought it was good enough to ask!

Marketing Seminar Los Angeles
Automotive News Marketing Seminar, Los Angeles 2014
After the Q&A, I talk to more people, trading business cards and conversation as I wait for the opportunity to talk to Lexus and Nissan again.  There! My opportunity!

Ten minutes into talking to Brian from Lexus, he gives me his card and I reach for mine, congratulating him as we part.  The next handshake is with with Nissan’s Erich Marx, and his funny personality.  “This is working,” I thought. My experience, confidence, and consistent push has put me face-to-face the guys that I dream to work for one day. Now, if I can just keep it up!

The trip is a success—the AN seminar reinforced my goals and makes the third amazing day in a row in California.  It seems that every year when I head out west, I ask myself, “Why am I not here?!”

“This is car country” someone stated, “and you need to be here.”

On that Mother’s Day, I was where I needed to be, gaining valuable experiences in California, because my mother is the best and does not need to see me on her special day. She would rather see me grow and gain momentum in an industry that I have a lot of potential to contribute to and succeed in.

Thank you mom for giving me the skills and opportunities to pursue my wildest dreams, I will love you forever.

-
Chase

P.S. Here's my mom and her flowers I gave her before I left.
Nanette Gregory Flowers
The best mother in the world, Nanette Gregory