V&R in 2012 – A Look Ahead

2012 Hyundai Veloster 4
A preview of coming attractions on V&R? 2012 Hyundai Veloster – Photo by Randy Stern

The question remains: What would make this site completely awesome?

This year already yielded some huge advances for the site. Through new connections, a wider social media presence and some leaps and an expansion of outlets for my writing, the groundwork has been laid for an extraordinary 2012.

That is, of course, if the economy would be of help on my end.

If, perchance, that the economy is indeed improving and I am able to gain traction through this phase of economic recovery, there are a lot of plans for V&R. All it takes is some hard work, some opportunities and some miracles thrown in.

Sometimes, it's good to make some plans for the upcoming year. What vehicles would be reviewed on this site (and Lavender Magazine)? What events should I attend for coverage in V&R and Lavender? What crazy ideas I might have to bring you closer to these two outlets (and more)?

All well and said…here's a look at what's the table for 2012:

AUTO SHOW COVERAGE: I get asked whether I am attending a particular auto show or not. Unfortunately, budgets have been non-existent to allow me to attend the Los Angeles and Detroit shows during this season. Hopefully, this will be rectified for next auto show season.

Right now, I am awaiting final confirmation on attending press days at the Chicago Auto Show in February. That is on my definite list of shows to attend in 2012. In Chicago, it is my opportunity to examine the vehicles introduced in Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Detroit…as well as attend debuts for that show. One item of business for that show will be the handing over of the 2011 Vehicle of the Year award to Buick and General Motors.

The Twin Cities Auto Show does not have a press day, per se, but expect a couple of things to come out of V&R's local show. There are some ideas being discussed for the local auto show in March – soon to be released in a month's time.

LIFESTYLE PIECES: The one thing you will see on V&R is a series of articles that pertain to every day driving habits and the universe around the automobile. Some of these pieces are also designated for Lavender Magazine as well. One piece that is looked at for June (that's LGBT Pride Month in case everyone's wondering) is another take on which automobiles are loved by the community.

V&R is also committed to discussing alternatives to petroleum fuels and the internal combustion engine. Expect more newsworthy commentaries on alternative fuels, electric vehicles and public transportation. Being based in the Twin Cities, the discussions about these topics have been ripe since biomass fuels are more readily available than most places in the USA, the electric vehicle grid is growing and several new projects are underway for public transportation. Of course, these stories may not necessarily be Twin Cities-centric as all of this would just happening right in your backyard.

Expect some surprises for some more lifestyle pieces, even through the Five Favorites series.

MORE HISTORY: Back in November, V&R posted a retrospective on the automobile scene during Randy's senior year in High School. The purpose of the piece was to kick off a commemoration of the upcoming 30th class reunion scheduled for later in 2012. The piece was quite successful that V&R has expanded it to a series. This month, I recalled my initial attempts at automotive journalism. The series will continue with deeper historical looks at the automotive industry, its products and trends of the time and place. We might even see a comparison between the parking lots of rival high schools in the Western San Fernando Valley.

Plus, the Five Favorites series always brings out the serious history undergrad in me (my BA was in History from California State University, Hayward…er, East Bay). The balance of research, source corroboration, fact checking and personal knowledge helps in framing these historical articles. You might be surprised what could be dredged up on this site.

THE SPECULATOR: There was some feedback in this new series that looks at some upcoming new vehicles – whether known or unknown. The good thing about this series is that it is based on sources available to everyone. There's no inside information or anything that would cause alarm in the industry. The Speculator is just an outsider's perspective along with both historical and current knowledge and a tracking of trends within that particular company.

This series also serves as an open suggestion letter to the company. Some of us have been around many current products to know what's underneath the hood to pinpoint any improvements needed. Perhaps we could suggest that the vehicle should remain as it is. These pieces are not platforms for criticism of a particular company or brand. Rather, some friendly and caring observations as to how to improve a product towards a return to leadership or a new plateau for the segment.

POTENTIAL REVIEW SUBJECTS: At around the start of the new model year, I try to compile a list of vehicles to review during the next year. These lists get sent to my contacts to see what is possible. I'd expect a plethora of review subjects after things warm up at the end of winter.

If you're wondering what's on the list, there are several current models waiting to arrive here at the V&R Garage. For example, the Buick Verano, Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Veloster and Toyota Camry are amongst the ones on this list. Future vehicles, such as the 2013 Cadillac XTS, 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and 2013 Lexus GS were also being discussed as subjects for the coming 12 months. You could also expect another pickup truck to swing by the Garage for another experiential piece. I am also hoping to add more brands, including a specific European nameplate that had never been driven by your's truly, to the review list as well.

The best way to approach review subjects is to expect the unexpected – within reason.

Being a Minneapolis-St. Paul based automotive journalist may be a mixed blessing. For one, the region continues to be a strong automotive market with a diverse group of enthusiasts and consumers. The region itself is a great testing ground for automobiles all year round – ranging from winter driving scenarios to some beautiful winding roads in several places within and outside the metro area. I am also blessed with having local resources from automobile clubs, as well as one of my core readership groups to go to for ideas.

However, Minneapolis-St. Paul is far removed from the core of the automotive industry. The last brick of this connection was shuttered on December 19 when Ford's Twin Cities Assembly plant rolled out its final Ranger pickup from the line. There are regional sales and service coordinators for the largest automobile companies locally, but to gain access to the source of news and reviews, the closest I could get is Chicago. The industry's core remains in Detroit along with automobile offices in Los Angeles, the New York City area, Atlanta, Nashville and Northern Virginia. The closest full-time automobile plant to me is now outside of Rockford, Illinois (Plants in the Kansas City and Chicago areas are within seven hours of home).

Yet, I enjoy the outsider's perspective my geography gives me. It's all relative – being from the flatlands of the San Fernando Valley witnessing those who scale up in life live up in the hills or on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains. How could someone living in Minnesota become an "insightful" voice amongst the small online community covering the automotive industry? How could someone else from the LGBT media understand what is happening in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Nashville, Munich, Toronto, Tokyo, Beijing, Chennai, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Moscow and various other locales where the industry has some form of influence on the economy?

After ten years of taking my automotive writing to the interwebs, I still feel that I am breaking new ground.

Through Lavender Magazine, I am able to bring a global perspective to a more concentrated audience, while maintaining a local point-of-view. For V&R, the local proving ground provides a wider picture to a generally global audience.

One never rests on its laurels. This past year was extraordinary on many fronts. I'm still stunned and amazed how much Victory & Reseda has taken on a life of it's own. I'm also amazed how much my writing has been accepted by so many different sets of people – from people inside the industry to enthusiasts to advocates to even the furthermost acquaintance in my life. With that said – I thank you.

Now, to 2012!

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