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Troy, Michigan 48098
Without revealing any secrets, can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
The auto industry is one of the most intriguing areas of the United States economy right now, as new technologies and companies enter the industry. The development of semi-autonomous and self-driving vehicles combined with the amount of advanced features in new cars and trucks have changed the way we think about not only the industry but driving itself.
There are endless possibilities for stories right now: Silicon Valley versus “traditional” automakers; emerging partnerships and consolidation of the auto industry with tech companies; cybersecurity issues related to the data entering and exiting vehicles (not to mention ownership of that data); and the roles of ride-sharing and ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Those are all in addition to the ongoing issues/topics of auto sales, profits, new products, fuel economy regulations, alternative powertrains and the globalization of the industry.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
I think I may have already had my dream assignment. As previously mentioned in a “Meet the Media” by Detroit Free Press auto writer Brent Snavely, we were able to travel to Italy last summer to see and experience the European operations of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.
It was an absolutely breathtaking trip that included touring facilities that produce Fiat, Jeep, Maserati and Ferrari vehicles. The Italian manufacturing operations – particularly Ferrari – were unlike anything I had ever experienced before (here’s the article on Ferrari production plant and Maranello, the home of Ferrari: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/chrysler/2015/06/19/little-town-ferrari-unlike-auto-plant/29015531/.
The production facilities were just one aspect of really immersing ourselves in the culture and history of Fiat, which took stake in the former Chrysler Corp. after its emergence from bankruptcy in 2009. The Agnelli family – founding family of Fiat – is automotive royalty in Europe. The only comparison would be the Ford family in the United States.
One assignment I would love to do in the future is on the automotive industry in China. The industry there is still developing and evolving. It would be fascinating to see how the industry operates compared to North America and Italy.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you’ve written.
One of the best times I’ve ever had on a story was for the introduction of the Dodge Hellcat SRT Challenger. It was the first automotive trip I went on that I was able to drive on a track. I love driving fast, and being able to legally go more than 100 miles per hour in a more than 700-horsepower car on the Portland International Raceway was euphoric. Pretty much any time I can drive on a track makes for a great day.
What is your top pet peeve with PR people?
I like to believe that I have a pretty good relationship with most PR people who I work with on a regular basis. My biggest pet peeve though is when news breaks or a release is sent out and the main contact person does not respond for hours to emails and/or calls. I understand that meetings happen and many PR people have other duties than just assisting reporters, but a text, email or call to even say they can’t immediately talk is always appreciated.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, favorites, background, etc.)
I grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods and now live in Royal Oak with my wife Stacey, pup Carter and newborn daughter Kayla. I graduated from Central Michigan University in 2009. Aside from cars, I enjoy traveling, watching sports (particularly football and hockey), craft beer and cooking.
Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to know that I once attempted to eat a seven-pound pizza for an assignment when I was working in Bay City.
Follow Mike on Twitter at: @MikeWayland