This is an interview with Melanie Batenchuk. She is the Editor if Be Car Chic, as well as, President if the Washington Automotive Press Association at washautopress.org
1. We first met at the Porsche Panamera event yet you have been a car lover or quite some time I’ve heard. How did you start being a “Car Chick”?
Porsche is actually the car that got me into cars. When I was 10, my father and brother had a 1972 Porsche 911S restored. It was all I heard about in the house for nearly two years, so I guess I just started soaking up the information about cars. Then I began reading magazines like AutoWeek and Motor Trend.
Somehow, my family was all about the German car brands. My dad has only driven Mercedes-Benz for years; my brother has owned several Porsches; I have always loved BMW.
In college, my passion for autos continued to grow when I worked at a car dealership. Of course, they had two of my favorite brands – BMW and Porsche – so that didn’t hurt.
I officially became known as a car chick through my online presence on Twitter. I used to work on behalf of the international car dealers here in D.C. That’s when I discovered social media. In 2008, I was one of the first women engaging with the auto community on Twitter; I didn’t set out to form a personal brand, but Twitter is how my “car chick” brand found me!
2. What do you think about the plugin Porsche?
The Panamera Plug-in is a pretty sweet ride. It was amazing to get to experience it on both the track and streets during the media launch last fall (where we first met!). The car is undeniably beautiful and unique – with or without the hybrid power train – but I think the technology in the plug-in takes the Panamera to the next level. I mean, you have every bit of power that you could want as a Porsche driver and owner, and the added benefit of higher fuel economy. It’s a win-win.
This is a girly thing to say, but I love the lime green badging and brake calipers on the Panamera plug-in. They are a nice touch to say, “This is not your average Panamera,” without being gaudy, which other electrified luxury vehicles have fallen prey to.
3. Have you ever driven the Tesla Model S?
I have not driven the Tesla Model S yet, but I’m eager to get my hands on one. Perhaps Elon will read this interview and personally hook me up (but I doubt it ha!).
4. I drove the Tesla Roadster sport once in NYC. Now that was amazing torque and speed combined. So what is your take on the fact that electric cars have 100 percent torque at zero rpm?
The torque argument is something that I feel gearheads and tech guys geek out about. It’s not so much common knowledge by the average consumer. It makes a valid argument when an auto enthusiast disses an all-electric vehicle, but I think we still have a ways to go making the public understand just how punchy – and even, powerful – these cars can be.
For example, the guy who took delivery of his new Model S and pressed the accelerator too hard, ending up driving right through the Tesla store’s sign.
(Story here for your reference: http://insideevs.com/tesla-buyer-takes-delivery-immediately-crashes-model-s/)
5. What’s your favorite green car (hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV)?
I don’t know that I’ve spent enough time in any of the green cars to pick a favorite. I am pretty excited to experience the Cadillac ELR and Nissan LEAF for a week each later this month. If I had to pick, I’ll take the obvious car chick choice – the 918 Spyder. Obviously that’s not a realistic “green car” to desire, but man, it’s gorgeous.
6. What’s coming up for you and Be Car Chic in the future?
Well, I’m currently serving my second term as president of the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA).
This experience has been so rewarding, and I believe our membership has been reinvigorated for the organization’s future.
WAPA has always been known to have a very engaged membership when participating in manufacturer-sponsored events with our group, and while that’s something I didn’t create, I am so proud of our past leaders and members for creating such a strong legacy.
The blog is in its fifth year, and we have some pretty exciting things happening. I’ve picked up a few great contributors to help carry the load. As you know, it’s not easy running an automotive website on your own. In celebration of Be Car Chic’s five years, we’re planning to revamp the brand, including a new state-of-the-art website to better feature our great content.
I’ll also be testing out quite a few cars in the coming weeks, which means I have a lot of writing ahead of me! Other than that, I’m hoping to make it to the L.A. Auto Show this year, which is becoming better known for its green car news.