Acerta’s Top 5 Automotive Influencers

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We do our best to keep up with the automotive world at Acerta, but it can be difficult to keep track of all the trends and changes taking place—especially these days. That’s why we turn to the experts: people who’ve developed a knack for understanding an industry that employs nearly 10 million people and is worth more than half a trillion dollars in the US alone.

From leading researchers, to savvy writers, to digital strategists, these are the five automotive influencers you should be following.

Kristin Dziczek

Vice President of Industry, Labor & Economics at the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), Kristin Dziczek has more than 25 years of experience working with automotive and manufacturing technology, first as Associate Director at the renowned Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and then at CAR.

She is particularly well known for her expertise on automotive labor and employment, demonstrated by her insightful comments on the challenges of restarting the auto industry in Automotive News, the Automotive Logistics Podcast, and Axios, among others.

For more in-depth examples of Dziczek’s insights, check out her co-authored CAR publications “Contribution of General Motors to the Economies of Nine States and the United States in 2019” and “Automation Adoption & Implications for the Automotive Workforce”.

Edward Loh

Head of Editorial at MotorTrend Group, Edward Loh has been covering the automotive world for almost 20 years. A former high school science teacher and freelance photographer, Loh worked at Import Racer!, Sport Compact Car and Road and Track before becoming editor-in-chief at MotorTrend in 2011. Two of his personal favorite stories as EIC are in video format: a crash test of the 2013 Volvo XC60 and an analysis of the science behind the speed of the 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Loh’s perspective on the industry combines a hands-on passion for all things automotive with scientific objectivity that makes for some great reading. As an example, here’s his description of a first glimpse under the hood of a 1932 Mercedes-Benz SSKL:

As the handler unfastened the clasps on the engine cover, my view of the polished and gleaming 7.0-liter straight-six engine was quickly obscured by the forward crush of the crowd that had gathered, phones in hand, camera and Instagram apps at the ready.

As I watched the scene play out on the mobile screens in front of me, I thought ahead to the 2119 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Surely by then we will have devices much smarter than our current smartphones, but will the vehicles of today and tomorrow engender the same emotions and reactions? Will we look upon the cars of today with the same curiosity?

On a less philosophical note, check out his recounting of MotorTrend’s first impressions of the Tesla Cybertruck for a chuckle.

Jim McPherson

Attorney, former contributor to Forbes and founder of SafeSelfDrive.org, Jim McPherson has a very different perspective on the automotive industry from the others on our list, particularly on the subject of autonomous vehicles. McPherson has devoted considerable time and effort in recent years to advising public entities and private companies on the legislative, economic, and logistical impacts of AVs, and his insights continue to penetrate into the issues surrounding autonomy and safety.

Amidst Silicon Valley’s climate of eager anticipation regarding driverless cars and the future of mobility, McPherson offers a sobering take on the challenges, pitfalls and misperceptions of autonomous vehicles. He’s called out Elon Musk for dangerously overhyping Tesla’s Autopilot, admonished Uber for its lack of data transparency, and provided a clear definition of the often nebulous term: ‘micromobility’. Despite his more realistic viewpoint, McPherson is careful to emphasize that he is neither for or against autonomous vehicles per se, but rather focuses on advocating for strict safety standards and accountability.

It’s a sorely needed reminder in an industry that prides itself on moving fast and breaking things.

Michael Wayland

If you’re looking for the latest business news from the auto industry, look no further than CNBC Autos reporter Mike Wayland. Born and raised in the heartland of the automotive world, he is an alumnus of Central Michigan University with a B.Sc. in Journalism and English.

Although he’s been working in the industry for less time than the others on our list, Wayland has quickly built up an impressive resume: he covered Detroit businesses for the Michigan news site MLive, then became a beat reporter for FCA and co-hosted an automotive tech and trends podcast with Mike Martinez at The Detroit News called “Miked Up”. From there, he moved on to focus on General Motors and the UAW for Automotive News before taking up his current role at CNBC last year.

As an example of his work, Wayland’s recounting of a trip to the Ferrari production plant in Maranello, Italy paints a vivid picture of the company’s unique approach to manufacturing:

The complex is unlike any factory in Detroit. The complexity, cleanliness and heritage makes it a unique place to visit and work for its roughly 3,000 employees, including 700 people in racing. The workers all wear matching Ferrari-red uniforms with the Italian flag and Ferrari crest on their chest.

And the facilities themselves — from a 1970s-era engine assembly building to the all-new racing division facility completed earlier this year — appear clean as surgical suites, with natural light coming in all through the building. Plants and trees in grow in buildings and on private patios.

Wilko Wolters

A strategist and thought leader on digital transformation both in Germany and abroad, Wilko Wolters is an associate partner at IBM iX, the tech giant’s digital consultancy. He was also a co-founder of d2twelve Strategy Consultants, and is currently managing partner/digital advisor to the board for mobilityheads, which focuses on digital strategy and consulting in the automotive industry. In addition, Wolters is a lecturer for the mechanical engineering department at the University of Applied Sciences Landshut.

A prolific social media user, Wolters’ knowledge and insight into the intersection of digitalization and automotive technology shine through in every post. From tweets about sustainability by making car parts from coffee beans, to videos of holographic windows on Beijing subways, to offering practical advice for business leaders, following him provides a clear and entertaining view into where the auto industry is headed.

 

There are many other automotive experts and leaders out there, but each of the people on this list brings something unique to an enormous and complicated industry.

Who are your favourites? Let us know on Twitter!

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