Real Wheels Live (April 1)

Apr 01, 2016

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.

Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Download the Carlist app and list your car for free on and it goes to Facebook and Twitter instantly

Good Morning Warren and Friends,

Did anyone stay up to watch the live unveil of the Tesla Model 3? I doubt it. We - Driving the Nation - periscoped it. You can still see it live on my twitter feed or on my youtube channel. Bonus! Both Stretch and I were talking about it live. 

Many of  you have asked about document fees, and other fees that are add-ons to the price of a car. I wrote an article for you, entitled, Negotiating the final price of your car. Let me know if there are fees I left off. 

I drove a $58,000 luxury SUV Lexus RX350 this week. In full disclosure, most of you know I own a Lexus. I would still buy another Lexus, but it would have to be a plug-in hybrid. Any car I buy would have to be a plug-in. That make total sense to me. Especially when you know my next big purchase is solar panels. 

Let's chat about cars.

I suspect you will be getting a lot of questions about this today. I don't want to get too excited but with 115,000 orders for this car already, the Model 3 could be the single biggest development in my lifetime for the environment when you think of it in connection with the large amounts of solar and wind electrical generating capacity that the U.S. is adding. Imagine 50 years from now people may think that the notion of millions of cars spewing out toxic fumes would be unthinkable. Now let's hope Elon can actually pull this off. The only downside for me is that I have not ordered one and it sounds like the tax incentives may go away before I do.

This is the future, like it or not. Lou Ann, I did not hear, but how easy is it for the manufacturer to upgrade this one in your driveway long-distance?

Have the engineers taught them to cut the wheel a bit before changing direction or do they strain the power steering system and grind the rubber into the asphalt the way that 90% of the people I see park.

I saw an Audi park itself in a garage a couple years back at CES. It was like watching a ballerina

here it is

I currently own a 2010 BMW 650i coupe. It has about 72,000 miles on it and 22inch after market wheels. White with chateau red interior. I'm thinking about selling it and purchasing a 2006 Bentley CGT with 25,000 miles on it. The Bentley is listed for sale at $57,999. How much do you think I could realistically sell my BMW for, and what is a good price for a 2006 Bentley CGT. Also concerned about maintenance/opener ship costs....

Be prepared for a bit of disappointment. The BMW of your dreams may be someone else's nightmare or poor taste. They will pay accordingly.

Hi guys, I have an opportunity to buy, from Carmax, a fully-optioned 2013 Chevy Volt with 45K miles for 15 grand. It would be a second car used mostly for the daily 20 mile r/t work commute, and to offset the use of a Honda Odyssey which is needed for weekends to haul the kids around. I love the idea of not having to use gas (but like the backup gas engine) and I can charge the Volt while I'm at the office, free of charge. Would you do this? Does it sound like a good deal or should I instead put down a deposit on the new Tesla and wait until the end of next year?

In a heartbeat. buy the volt. now. I love plug-in hybrids. They give you the ability to be part of the solution, and for you to see what else needs to be done in our infrastructure to make electric cars work.

It is here and now. buy it.

I have a car that I want to donate. Do you have any recommendations of particularly good organizations Military or Veteran related would be preferable.

Yeah, check with Goodwill or a certafied vet's group.

I recently read an article that reported trade in values of hybrid vehicles are low. Perhaps this applies to all-electric vehicles, too. Do you have any insights?

When the price of oil/gasoline goes back up trade in values of hybrid vehicles will go back up.

Happens everytime

I understand that a new plug-in Prius is coming. Do you have any recent information on what we can expect? I am particularly interested in the expected range on electricity. Thank you.

I know it's coming. I think the range is 200 miles per charge. Put it this way, you probably won't have range-anxiety with this one.

OK, I'll ask the obvious question.... what do you make of the news out this week on headlight ratings? Surprised? Based on current lifestyle, I don't drive in the dark nearly as much as I used to. About a year ago, I bought a new Volvo and was pleasantly surprised at how the lights illuminated the road in front and to the sides....when I drove my old car it was noticeably less lit. Would guess many of us have no idea how poorly our current vehicles perform in this way...

I love the way some lights follow the road, but have to agree that some headlights can almost be accident causing.


What has been your personal experience with ingress to and egress from the 2016 Honda Civic's front seats? The car gets rave reviews EXCEPT that you reportedly must "fall" into the front seats when entering and contort yourself to exit the vehicle. Allegedly, this is because the Civic has been redesigned to make it look longer and sleeker?

I love this Civic, fits me perfectly. I am short. I slip in, not fall in.

Do all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles have the same 240V plugs? If someone goes to the trouble and expense of having a 240V outlet installed to charge their car, will they have to have the outlet replaced if they buy another brand of plug-in vehicle? Do all electric/plug-in hybrid cars offer the option of charging via a normal 120 outlet? Thanks.

Most electrics are plug-in user friendly. Check with your manufacturer/dealer on setting up the appropriate charging station for your car.

I've got my popcorn on hand, waiting for Clifton to again allege that electric cars are worse for the environment than internal-combustion cars. Friday mornings are always a good time around here!

LOL - do you think Clifton still gets up to turn the TV station?

(BTW - I am sure that in person Clifton is a lovely man)

Solar panels, charging stations, the world be damned, we're on our way to self-sufficiency and keeping that money in the United States.

So where is the greatest con man of the 21st century building his new EV? Does Tesla have the capacity and financial resources to build 200,000 vehicles in a year. Wall Street is talking about Tesla's car burn. Tax credit ends when Tesla builds its 200,000 vehicle. Just FYI. I would be very upset if I put down a deposit and it took Musk 2 to 3 years to deliver my vehicle after production started. Also one day folks with EVs will have to pay for recharging and it wont be free and batteries lose capacity every time they are discharged and recharged. There are no free rides. Lets bring back steam powered cars. Clifton, VA

OMG - We were just talking about you Clifton!

Panasonic is Tesla's partner building the gigafactory in Nevada. That's a pretty good partner to have!

If SB 32 passes in California Tesla might get more tax credits.

If the majority of EV charging stations - including the ones at car dealerships - were run on solar panels we would have clean air and that would offset the health problems many people have.

Good to hear from you, popcorn Man (above post) is laughing and chomping

I will take Musk. He's a dreamer. He see's what many people don't see. He makes mistakes. But he gets more right than he does wrong. He is how we move ahead. Clifton? It is easy to find fault, isn't it?

Uh...Warren.... the Prius Plug-in was unveiled last week. 22 mile range, not 200.

Thanks. I'm thinking the new Hyundai Hybrid. I apologize.

I need to replace my family hauler - a 9 year old Toyota Sienna. I'm liking everything I'm seeing about the new Chrysler Pacifica - looks, available safety technologies, etc. What are your thoughts on the van? Or would you recommend I continue with a Toyota Sienna? Can't/won't do a Honda for a variety of personal reasons.

I would definitely look at the Chrysler Pacifica. The stow-n-go seats alone are worth buying for me. It is structurally sound and feels like you're driving a smaller vehicle. Stretch - 6'4"- sat in the 3rd row and because there is room under the second seats he could fit quite easily. And you have to get the one with the stow-n-vac in the 2nd row. That is cool.

I, of course, would wait for the PHEV because any car I buy from now on will be at least a plug-in hybrid.

Did you see my article?

I see the Tesla Model 3 has flipped the script somewhat over the Model X and integrated the glass roof with the rear window instead of the windshield. This seems to make a lot more sense than combining the roof with the windshield, as replacing a windshield due to rock damage or cracks is a pretty common occurrence. I'd hate to have to replace my whole roof because my windshield cracked.

Good point. I'm thinking at some point there's got to be a solar panel portion as well. What do you think?

Don't forget that the power has to come from somewhere. When an early adopter, the late Dartmouth Environmental Studies professor Ned Perrin, and I ran the numbers 15 years ago, it was better from an emissions stand-point to have an efficient internal combustion engine than an electric car in Northern Virginia. This was due to the smokestack emissions from power plants at that time. For Professor Perrin, who lived in Vermont with its greater use of nuclear and hydro power, it was better to have an electric car. As an added benefit for him, there was a parking spot restricted to electric cars right outside the Environmental Studies building and he had the only one in the area in the 1990's. Rotterdam has a high percentage of electric cars and just added new, coal fired power plants to their grid.

Nothing is perfect. Power must come fro somewhere. And it is hard to expend energy without creating waste. Yes. Just means we keep trying.

No question we need to develop electric cars, and more fuel-efficient vehicles in general. Did either of you see the LA Times column last year about Elon Musk's companies getting almost $5 billion in subsidies? (WaPo won'the let me paste the link.) Just remember that the next time you hear politicians railing against welfare and people who desperately need financial help. (I'm all too familiar that oil companies get all kinds of government support, too.) Garey, Ottawa

I've long jettisoned "Christian" politicians who wail against welfare. I have no problem with funding future technology. Musk seems to be creating something with his $5 billion, which is more than I can say for the politicians.

Is it fair to say that plug-in vehicles do not eliminate polluting emissions, they just reduce them and move the source of emissions from the roads to the power plants?

Yes, that is fair in most cases. Shad Balch works for General Motors. His mother owns a Chevy Volt. She also has solar panels on her house. She only uses gasoline if the Volt makes her (gasoline goes bad after a certain time, so you have to use it)

The more solar panels we see coming up, especially on car dealership charging units and homes the less we will depend on power plants.

We've been using gasoline for over 100 years. We will figure electricity - a domestic energy - out.

Lou Ann, I know you LOVE this vehicle, but it's just. so. ugly. It looks like a toaster on wheels. Otherwise, love everything about you and what you say.

Love you too. It is so much better than it used to be and now they are going to bring out a plug-in hybrid minivan with stow-n-go seats and stow-n-vac. It has backup camera standard.

I would take a nice looking car with all that functionality. It is just that simple.

I doubt that I would enjoy the company of Mr. Musk much and Teslas are not yet appealing to me, but there are two points that seem obvious: 1) Teslas are probably the best electric automobiles ever made 2) Tesla, the company, appears to have a reasonable chance to be the first new automobile company to achieve large scale production and survive in the US in a long time (time will tell). Are these reasonable statements?

I agree with your 2 statements but I think I would enjoy Musk's company, as long as I could take Stretch with me. Musk is a thinker, he owns Tesla and Space X. The amount of energy that synapses in that brain has to be incredible. Stretch is the same way.

I wonder if that environmental study took into account the electricity used in the refining process, as well as the energy used in distribution of gasoline. Straight tailpipe vs. electric power plant emission comparisons might look good if the gasoline producing emissions are left out of the picture

The emissions gasoline cars leave everywhere are measurable and must be reduced. Ditto fossil fuel emissions from other sources. Not easily done. But something we must do.

Thank you all for joining us today. Great conversation on electrics. Please return next week. Thanks Gene, Lou Ann, Ria. Eat lunch.

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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: