It’s Not Politics, It’s Innovation: The Future of Automotive Technology – Curated by The Petersen Museum and SEMA

Regular price $25

Thursday, Aug. 15, 10:00AM

Moderated by Richard Varner With Mike Spagnola, Jim Farley, Ben Speciale, Andy Walz & Cooper Ericksen

Join the Petersen Museum, SEMA, and a panel of automotive and fuel executives for a salon-style discussion about the future of automotive fuel technologies. Learn more about the challenges the current “rush to electrification” policy presents for the future of the U.S. economy and automotive innovation. Panelists will share cutting-edge information about the current development and usage of new low and zero-emissions vehicle technologies that will help us achieve the desired effect of lowering vehicle emissions in the U.S. while protecting the rights of American consumers to choose the vehicles that best suit their needs.

Richard Varner – Moderator

Chairman, Board of Directors Navitas Companies A Wichita, Kansas native, Richard Varner has enjoyed a career spanning four decades in the petroleum industry’s midstream sector. His passion for cars and motorcycles led to becoming a founding partner of the MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing championship. Richard and his wife, Karen Morally, have four children and three grandchildren. In addition to serving as the Chairman of the Board of the Petersen Automotive Museum, he serves on the boards of the California Highway Patrol 11-99 Foundation, the Dean’s Advisory Board of the University of Nebraska School of Business, and as a trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Mike Spagnola – President & CEO, SEMA

Mike Spagnola is the President and CEO of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). Mike has logged over 40 years in the specialty auto parts arena, including more than 20 years of product development and project vehicle work. Immediately prior to joining SEMA, he served as President for Street Scene Equipment for 16 years. His experience working with OEMs building concept and project vehicles has led to more than a dozen design awards from OEMs. Mike also completed six years of service on the SEMA Board of Directors prior to joining SEMA. Spagnola is also a racer, having raced competitively in SCCA and off-road. When he’s not spending time with his wife, three children and five grandchildren, Spagnola enjoys collecting and restoring cars.

Jim Farley – CEO, Ford Motor Company

Jim Farley is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford, President of Ford Model e, and a member of Ford’s board of directors.

As CEO, Farley is focused on transforming Ford to lead the digital and electric revolution in the automotive industry, through the deployment of the ambitious, customer-focused Ford+ plan. The plan includes building a more resilient company that thrives at the intersection of great vehicles, iconic brands, innovative software and high-value services.

Under Farley’s leadership, Ford reorganized its business into three distinct Automotive segments: Ford Blue, for iconic gas and hybrid vehicles; Ford Model e, for breakthrough EVs along with creating the digital platforms and software for Ford’s entire product lineup; and Ford Pro, helping commercial customers transform their operations with work-ready vehicles and services. This strategy is delivering customers with great value and the freedom of choice across powertrains as the industry transitions to an all-electric future.

 Ben Speciale – Pres., Yamaha Marine Group Company

Ben Speciale became President of the Yamaha Marine Group Company, now known as the Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit, in May 2010. The Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit is a part of Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. located in Kennesaw, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. As President, Speciale directs the U.S. Marine Business Unit, including all U.S.-based marine activities and subsidiaries. He will also act as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Marine Engines and Boat Power Systems (BPS). In addition, Speciale serves as the chairperson of the National Marine Manufacturers Association Board of Directors. He oversees Yamaha’s boat companies and subsidiaries, including Skeeter bass boats, G3 aluminum fishing boats, Precision Propeller Industries, Inc., Bennett Marine and Kracor.

Active in the community and the marine industry, Speciale is a native of Spring City, Tenn., and a 1987 graduate of Ohio State University. He, his wife, Kim, and their two daughters reside in Kennesaw, Ga.

Andy Walz – President, Americas Products, Chevron

Andy Walz is president, Americas Products, a position he assumed in October 2019. He is responsible for optimizing Chevron’s fuels, base oils, and lubricants supply chains in North and Latin America, as well as the marketing, sale and delivery of Chevron and Texaco fuels brands and lubricants products that include the Havoline, Delo and Ursa brands.

In 2020 the renewables business unit was established under Americas Products to commercialize lower carbon products, including Renewable/Compressed Natural Gas, Hydrogen and Sustainable Aviation Fuel for transportation. This includes infrastructure development of compressed natural gas and hydrogen stations, renewable natural gas projects, and all joint venture management in the lower carbon space. In 2022 the Chevron REG business unit was established under Americas Products, responsible for feedstock aggregation, renewable manufacturing, and marketing lower carbon fuels.

Walz graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Civil Engineering. He joined Chevron in 1989 and has more than 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry.

Cooper Ericksen - Sr. VP, Product, BEV and Mobility Planning and Strategy, Toyota Motor North America

Cooper Ericksen is senior vice president of product, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and mobility planning and strategy for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA). He is responsible for the overall planning and strategy for all North American sold vehicles, and development of the BEV and Mobility business including planning, pricing, cross carline, and affiliates.

Prior to his current role, Ericksen served as group vice president of product planning and strategy overseeing product planning, pricing, cross carline technology and advanced product strategy. vice president, TMNA cross carline, alternative fuels and Lexus product planning.

Ericksen previously held the positions of vice president in both Toyota and Lexus divisions at TMS. He was responsible for product planning, strategy, and marketing and communications in consecutive roles. As a corporate manager, he oversaw van, crossover utility vehicles and advanced technology vehicles.

Ericksen began his career with Toyota in 1991. He’s held a variety of positions in Toyota’s regional offices, including Central Atlantic, San Francisco, Portland and Boston, and has worked in roles at both the corporate headquarters in Torrance, California, and Plano, Texas.

Forum panelists subject to change.

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