'Autoextremist' Offers Insider's View of Detroit

Peter DeLorenzo at his computer i i

Peter DeLorenzo covers the auto industry via his 8-year-old site Autoextremist.com. Jason Beaubien, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Beaubien, NPR
Peter DeLorenzo at his computer

Peter DeLorenzo covers the auto industry via his 8-year-old site Autoextremist.com.

Jason Beaubien, NPR

As Detroit's Big Three automakers desperately try to return to profitability and hang on to a significant share of the car market, they're under increased scrutiny — particularly from online journalists and bloggers.

One of the oldest automotive blogs is run by Peter DeLorenzo. His site, Autoextremist.com, provides an insider's view on the big issues facing Motor City.

Peter DeLorenzo is a bit like the Detroit auto industry itself. He's getting a little bit older. Some say his product is past its heyday. But DeLorenzo overflows with self-confidence.

"It's the most influential site of its kind on the Web because our audience is made up of the heads of the companies," he boasts.

DeLorenzo was born in the storied automotive town of Flint, Mich., to an automotive family. His father was a public relations executive at General Motors.

"I sort of grew up in the business in the heyday of Detroit, when they were dominating the U.S. market and everything was great," DeLorenzo says.

Each week from his home north of Detroit, the 55-year-old DeLorenzo rips into the big issues with a particularly Detroit slant.

He blasts Porsche for pulling out of the Detroit Auto Show. He denounces Chrysler's hybrid plans as having "no there there." He rails about politicians in Washington "massacring" Detroit with new fuel efficiency standards. And he drops auto executives' names as if everyone knows who they are. Most of his readers do.

DeLorenzo says Detroit's biggest problem is that for two decades, GM, Ford and Chrysler let their quality go down the tubes. But he contends that the U.S. automakers are now making cars that are as good as or better than the imports.

"Detroit definitely has got the message. They are bringing out good products. Can they bring them out fast enough? That's another issue. Can they get people to buy them or consider them? That's the billion-dollar question."

DeLorenzo started Autoextremist eight years ago, after a career in automotive advertising. Like the carmakers he covers so closely, DeLorenzo himself faces fierce competition.

The site Autoblog has far more information. Automotive News updates its Web site multiple times a day. The Detroit Free Press, Automotive Digest and Edmunds.com all cover the industry extensively online.

Ray Wert is the Detroit-based editor of Jalopnik.com, which takes a hipper, more flippant approach to the auto industry. Wert says he reads Autoextremist, but he describes DeLorenzo as an insider looking in on the industry.

"In many ways, the Autoextremist is like a columnist," Wert says. "He is a weekly read. But if you want your daily news, you go to other sources."

DeLorenzo says he isn't worried about the competition so long as he's read by the upper echelons of the auto industry. He also isn't concerned about Autoextremist making money. DeLorenzo pays the bills by working as a consultant for some of the same auto companies he covers on his blog each week.

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