What Makes a Great Automotive Feature Article? Heroic Odysseys

Great feature writing starts with a concept and the writer goes on his/her own odyssey. She meets many foes and friends on her odyssey to discover what no one has before. Good feature writers tell stories about people overcoming tragedy and transforming the world around them.For example, what started out as a simple fact-filled article about car losses from Hurricanes Henry and Irma, hitting the Gulf Coast, turned into a story of heroism and helping humans in dire need.

First, I saw the number of cars damaged by the hurricanes all over the scale, many of the numbers without sources cited. The Attorney General of Louisiana stated that 1,000,000 cars were destroyed. I contacted one of my reliable sources to confirm the number. In fact, iHS Markit’s number for cars that need to be replaced is 500,000.

Hurricanes and cars are tragic in the Gulf States because the Gulf States have some of the highest output refineries in the country. The Hurricanes caused the oil refineries to be shut down. The Hurricanes caused power outages. The Hurricanes caused evacuation orders from governors. The hurricanes caused gas shortages.

Heroic Help

Two sets of heroes emerged during the hurricane crisis is in the Gulf Coast states.

The first heroes were from GasBuddy an app and website designed to help drivers find the cheapest price for gas. During Hurricane Harvey, in Texas, GasBuddy discovered that the software and the app didn’t locate the gas stations that had power. Programmers spent all night re-programing the apps to allow convenience store owners and drivers to state which gas stations had power.

In Florida, as many as many as 40% of gas stations are down at some point. I discovered that in Florida Hurricane Irma was first expected to be a category 5 which could be devastating. Governor Rick Scott told the people in Florida to get out of the state. There was a problem though, the Gulf Coast refineries were closed and there was hardly any gas at stations. There were also reports of price gouging.

Instead of Greek heroes, here are geek heroes Frank Beard, GasBuddy Convenience Store Trends Analyst, and Patrick DeHaan, Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy with Governor Rick Scott (Navy cap in middle) helping hurricane victims find gas.

GasBuddy sent its analysts down to Tallahassee Florida to help out. GasBuddy added the functionality of taking photographs at the pump to show gas gouging because prices ranged as much as $7 per gallon. The data guy heroes supplied data to the local authorities to help locate gasoline. GasBuddy also added the diesel prices to help deal with shortages for trucking.

Two million users were added to the GasBuddy system during the weeks of the hurricanes.

My data analyst contact over at iHS Markit was not able to ascertain yet the car damages from Hurricane Irma in Florida.  It turns out that the heroes from GasBuddy and Governor Scott helped to save many vehicles. The governor told Floridians to use the GasBuddy app help them find gas when evacuating. When that hurricane hit, many cars were not in Florida. The cars did not get damaged. They were safe in nearby states.

The other hero was Elon Musk. He sent out software updates to allow Tesla owners in Florida, who didn’t have the expanded battery function to charge their batteries for a longer number of miles. Musk also hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to help Hurricane Maria victims. He is also talking with the Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico to help restructure the electrical grid in Puerto Rico for solar power.

The Tesla 3 may be a little late but some people in Puerto Rico will have electrical power.


Meanwhile, the bad guys (Cyclopes) come back into the story, unscrupulous car dealers may take the damaged vehicles and sell them with forged titles. This fact lead to an article on how to avoid buying flood-damaged vehicles

A feature story reveals the compelling heroism or genius of a new feature that can help save lives or protect the city of Troy from what is hidden inside the Trojan Horse. When I write a feature article, even though it is about new technology, I like to find that human perspicacity that brings out the best in people

The developers at GasBuddy didn’t make any extra money from offering new features in their apps but what they did was create an environment that made it easier in the face tragedy and for humans to survive. Unfortunately, in the news there is too much tragedy, we need to look at the heroes who inspire and save lives.

If you need a feature writer who brings out the heroism in stories, contact Lynn Walford here Lwal[at]freelancewriternow.com or by calling 626 921-NEWS.