Real Wheels Live

Oct 09, 2015

The Washington Post cars columnist Warren Brown and guest Lou Ann Hammond discussed what they're seeing in the auto industry. Plus, they gave purchase advice to readers.

Good Morning Warren and Friends,

(Image courtesy of Lou Ann Hammond)

I'm in Tarrytown, NY, today for the Honda Civic launch. Of course there is an embargo, but think of all the new "stuff" the Accord has on its car. What is amazing is how much the shape and size of the Civic has changed.

I was talking to George Peterson at dinner last night. Peterson owns, an automotive research and product specialist firm. George says that the Volkswagen image has gone down from 80% to 25%. Well, that didn't take long! We know that the 2016 diesels are on hold. The one thing I remember from the hearing yesterday was one of the Congressman asking the VW CEO, Michael Horn, why the defeat software wasn't patented. If they finally got this working it would have been something they wanted patented.

Warren couldn't be at the Honda Civic event (so I'm sitting in the seat that has his name on it ;) But we were at the BMW 7_series together and I videoed him talking about the 7-Series.

Let's chat about cars.

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We have a 2014 Touareg with a 3.0 liter Diesel Engine. I called my dealer, and they said all the VW emission issues don't apply to the 3.0 liter engine. Is that true? How would I really know? Confused by it all.

Everything is being investigated right now by CARB and Volkswagen 


CARB investigating all VW groups after diesel deception on Driving the Nation


CARB clarifies if you can sell your used Volkswagen diesel vehicle on Driving the Nation


CARB explains how Volkswagen got caught and why it matters on Driving the Nation


Volkswagen stock, and sales, falling, VW AG being removed from DJSI on Driving the Nation


John Batchelor radio show, Volkswagen and CARB on Driving the Nation

Hi Lou Ann / Warren, What did you make of the testimony by Mr Horn yesterday? I find it incredulous that VW claims the software was put in by a few rogue engineers. The software needs to be tested, engine calibrated. It is not a few lines that can work magic. (Plus if those software engineers made it work right the first time, they are the best software engineers available and need to be snapped up!!!!) The other part where it was claimed that they did not know till Sep 3, 2015 also defies belief. They knew in May 2014, issued 2 recalls that did not work. Yet no one asked questions? No one cared to find out why the recalls did not work? VW kept telling the EPA that the EPA's test parameters etc were wrong. VW fessed up only when EPA threatened to withhold the certification for the 2016 diesels. VW's approach so far has been of arrogance (especially towards its customers). Many of us who have had to deal with the company have suffered this arrogance. I am not very hopeful of VW turning the corner and becoming a better company. Germantown, MD

I think the most telling part of the conversation was when one of the Senators asked if that software had been patented. Volkswagen and all car companies except for Tesla patent everything they produce. If that were a breakthrough and not deceit it would have been patented. If the executives had known the vehicles were going to meet standards why didn't they work with the patent lawyers to patent the software before someone else stole it?

Kids have moved out! Ready for something OTHER than a minivan. What are your favorites among the hybrids? Still prefer something that can haul when necessary, like a hatchback. Thanks!

Toyota Prius hatchback plug-in hybrid 

What are your opinions about the Maxda6? Will it fit a tall (6' 2") driver with room for growing kids in the back? Is there any chance that there will be a hatchback or wagon version in the future? Thank you.

Mazda stays pretty quiet about their upcoming product. 


I love the 6 - look at the honda accord as well. 

During last weeks chat, you guys said there would be a MazdaSpeed 3. So... details... 2016? 2017? 4WD? Power? Price? Perhaps the better question is when is that information free of the embargo? What I really want to see is a detailed Golf R vs. Focus RS vs Speed 3 comparison test. But I'll have to wait on that one too.

we won't be able to do that for awhile. I like the Golf R - do you like manual transmission? 

When I hit my key lock button twice, a beep sounds. It is a very loud beep, irritating enough to startle nearby people. Do you know why manufacturers can't just make the sound a click or something softer? Only the driver needs to hear the sound, not everyone within the block. I have a '12 Honda CRV. But I think this is the case for most autos. And is it true that you should hit the lock button twice to engage the security system?

HELLO! are you listening manufacturers? can you hear us over all the beeps you're creating? 

The one that comes to mind for me is the Cadillac ELR. Loved the car, loved the technology. Everytime I opened the door the noises started. I felt like I was watching cnbc and there was a swoosh and breaking news and exclusive coming on.

Knock it off. Put vibrations or clunks, but these loud noises are irritating. 

Just saw what looks to be a new commercial for the Audi TT. It's a sleek and action-packed spot but the end frame is rather uh interesting. It simply says Audi Truth in Engineering Am thinking the the marketing people might want to come up with a new tag line FAST or am I one of the only people who would t in this?

The truth is that Volkswagen/audi/porsche have some great engineering. 

Is there deception is the diesel product. The CEO has already said there is admitting, "we screwed up" but that doesn't mean that some of the engineering they have created isn't pure genius. 

It is why people are so upset. They expected more from Volkswagen. 

I'm sorry, I don't really understand the relevance of the patent questions. And I'm a patent lawyer. Who has worked for car companies. Not every innovation is or can be protected. Especially software. The absence of a patent on the "defeat software" is really just an odd non-sequitur.

Thank you for coming on with your expertise. 

It was a Senator and he asked that question yesterday during the hearing and I thought it was a very good question because it made sense to me. 

If this were a software program that Volkswagen had written to defeat emissions could Volkswagen have patented it? I know Ford had a curve technology that was software and they patented it. Why not this piece of software? 

Thank you 

The other day, I rented a Chrysler 300 for a few hours. I had my unfinished book-on-CD with me to keep me from having to listen to the radio...and there was no CD player! How is Cracker Barrel going to make any money if they can't rent CD's to the old-timers who stop in for lunch on their road trips? (And I know I'm old because I stop there too.)

I'm assuming cracker barrel is Chrysler? 

Weight is part of the issue, millennials are the other part. While actual records are making a come back CDs are not. Everyone is going digital in the car and you have to have connections to get to your own music or apps. 


I come from a shifty family. I don't do Automatics (rentals excepted, and barely tolerated). So, yes, I'm looking at the Golf R now that they have a manual. And all of a sudden my GTI is worth $2K more. But I'm not in any rush. I'm drooling more over the RS than the R. And I'd like to see what Mazda brings to the table. I'm still not sold on spending the extra $10+ over the GTI/ST/3 either. But maybe...

Then I would go with the Golf R or look at an Audi TT R

The new Pilot looks good, what else would you recommend in a three-row SUV in a similar price range? Thanks.

Volvo XC 90 (but I'd spend more and get the PHEV version) 

I like the Honda for many reasons but one of them is they have usb charge points for the iPhone and iPad. 

Do you think VW dealerships will begin to close their doors due to the Diesel crisis? thanks, Tyler, Germantown, MD.

I hope not. I love the VW Passat and all the gasoline versions. Volkswagen is working on EVs as well. 

It's going to be a tough transition for them and there will be some financial downturn but VW has some great product. In fact, many people are scooping up their products because they are afraid of just what you are saying 

You don't always need to press the button twice to lock the vehicle. Once will do it on many cars. Twice usually gives you a confirmation beep so you know it's locked. Some vehicles may have options to turn this off (or maybe light flash only) somewhere in the options menu in the vehicle computer. Check your manual.

I am a twice to confirm kind of girl. It doesn't have to be a blow-your-eardrum out confirmation though

It's not just cars. Lord help me when some electronic device starts chirping in the house... no it's not the fire alarm... not the UPS... where the #$!#@% is it coming from? And of course it happens in the middle of the night. Fewer, quieter, and identifiable...


Throwing them under the bus...jumping on the bandwagon, whatever we want to call it. VW corporate screwed up big time on this. Heads should roll. BUT - and this is in regards to this incident and how VW treats its customers...BUT, I would like to go on record to say that the '99 Passat we bought new (which now lives with our son in L.A.) and the '11 Tiguan that we have now have been two of the most trouble-free, beautifully-engineered cars we've ever owned. On top of that, and perhaps more importantly, the service we've gotten from King VW in Gaithersburg has also been among the best auto service I've ever experienced - and I've been driving since 1974. The point is, yes, the company MUST make this right. This MUST go through the courts (not just the one of public opinion). Somebody in the chain of command (or multiple folks) must pay for this. Hopefully this will open a door and shed some light on how in the world something so devious could have been allowed to happen. But this company has excellent engineers working for it, and yes I will say this, at least SOME very, very qualified and trustworthy sales and service people. Single incidents have brought some pretty terrific companies to their knees and ultimate demise (think Pan Am). I, for one, don't want this for VW.

I absolutely agree and hear more of these stories everyday 

On our various models of Toyotas and a Lexus, pressing the lock button once locks the car and turns on the security system. Pressing it twice in rapid succession turns off the headlights immediately instead of after a 60-second lag. Sound is an option for this step. Some of these functions can be adjusted by the owner or the dealer, so check the manual or ask. (The purpose of the loud sound, I assume, is so you can check from a distance whether you actually remembered to lock up.)

good idea. 

Public Relations folks from invading this chat. Sorry your vehicles just arent that great. Go win a World Rally Championship and get back to us! VW and Ford have.

LOL - maybe they hired Clifton :) 

Mazda has a cult following that has eclipsed MINI. I doubt Jeremy or Eric like Warren and I that much that they would timeline bomb us :) 

Are all Hyundais created equal? Are some models known for having better quality construction and ride and performance than others? In your opinion, which model has the highest quality? Which has the worst?

well, certainly the Equus is the best performer and most beautifully designed. It also carries the price tag. The Sonata is the average - best design great car decent price 

I'd love a fun little hatchback but my wife isn't particularly comfortable with a manual transmission. Since the Focus RS is happening domestically, any chance of the slightly-more-tame Focus ST becoming available in an automatic or CVT?

we haven't heard yet, but I will ask for you

Both Warren and I had problems connecting today. Warren couldn't get connected but he will be back next week. 

I'm sorry if any of the questions weren't answered fully, please come back next week or email me at louatdrivingthenation dot com

Thanks for the help Michelle and Greg. 

And remember 

never drive faster than your Angel can fly 

much love, 


In This Chat
Warren Brown
Warren Brown has covered the cars industry for The Washington Post since 1982.

On Wheels Archive

Real Wheels Live Q&A Archive
Lou Ann Hammond
Lou Ann Hammond is the founder and owner of the first privately owned automobile website Recently Lou Ann has developed an automotive and energy issues related website,, that covers a broader range of subjects than solely the automotive or the energy industry.
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