The Washington Post

Real Wheels Live (Oct. 21)

Oct 21, 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.

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Good Morning Warren and Friends,

We drove the Infiniti QX 60 all week. Another great 3-row CUV that starts around $43,000 comes in AWD. The V-6 EPA fuel economy is stated at 20 city / 27 highway.

Fun week for me! Stretch and I went to San Francisco to the C3 Connected Summit. All the fun a person could have talking about autonomous driving and smart cities.

The panel we focused on was the group for smart cities that included Bosch, Continental, and a small company called HERE. A ride-sharing group called Chariot was there as well. You can see the full 40-minute panel here.

Ford's Principal Researcher, Sudipto Aich, started the conversation by announcing that Ford will have a high volume level-4 SAE capable autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing/hailing in 2021.

Think about this - Nine million miles are traveled, 125,000 taxis or Ubers are on the road (they probably meant to include Lyft as well, but since it's partially owned by General Motors...) 60,000 shared rides, 450,000 bytes of data from connected vehicles , 500,000 gigabytes of data transmitted and 350,000 cell phone apps downloaded

Bosch and Continental are working on the smart city solutions; in San Francisco for example, the old Navy Shipyard is being resurrected into a smart city. Bosch is working with the developer to create efficiency in the homes and eventually through autonomous driving and parking. Jiri Marek talked about the smart city project for Smart Cities.

Here is an open source company that maps the entire city using data from infrastructure and moving cars such as Audi, BMW, and Daimler. HERE has a collaboration with those three companies. Monali Shah showed us a mock-up of San Francisco and how HERE uses the information.

The best thing we figured out last night was how to get a tour around San Francisco for $5.75. Our taxi ride to the event cost $12.00 (including tip). We ordered an Uber pool on the way home. Uber pool is like a carpool that picks you up and goes to another spot and picks another person up. We were picked up and went by the baseball park, through downtown and back by the park and then to our hotel. If you don't have the time, you can use Uber or Lyft.

I drove the Kia Cadenza, a great sedan that is on the North American Car of the Year list. The Cadenza starts at $32,000 and the EPA estimated fuel economy is 20 city/28 highway/23 combined.

Let's chat about cars

According to the New York Times, there are still twenty million vehicles riding around with recalled Takata airbags which have not been replaced. Do any of the new 2017 models still contain Takata airbags or have they been completely discontinued for 2017 models?

Honda has set up an entire group to find and Honda cars with an old Takata airbag. It is like a geocaching puzzle!

There are new Takata airbags in new cars, but they are being monitored by the car companies now. Each car company I have talked to say they have an employee or more in place to ensure correct deployment/production.


Hi Warren and Lou Ann! I have searched through both previous Real Wheel columns and Driving the Nation and haven't seen anything that either of you have written about Tesla and the driving experience. Have either of you driven one, specifically the Model X? What did you think? Putting price aside, would you get one?

I have driven the Tesla Roadster and the Model S, but not the Tesla X.

I would get a Tesla. It not only has the best technology, it has a great interior and beautiful exterior design.

If it were not for Government legislation and the competition of Tesla, the other companies would not be where they are today in electric vehicles to the public. 

Here is the last webcast of Elon Musk talking about the ten times greater self-driving hardware and software they will have on their vehicles, including the Model3.

Best part you do. Askmy your full address and phone number and your age. I will gives you my info for your life. Do you have any question about my opinion?? My name is Thomas White

Your opinion is welcome. But I don't put my personal details online, Sorry.

Hello, VW will be buying my diesel Jetta sometime after Nov. 1. I know the 2017 Mazda 3 Hatchback I will purchase and the features I want. Would you suggest ordering it before Nov. 1? The combination of features I want, manual transmission among them, will likely mean a special order. And would you suggest buying where I live in Michigan or having my son order it and picking it up in the D.C. area? Coming to D.C. and seeing him and his family is not a hardship! Thanks!

It depends

1. Will Volkswagen be giving you the cash right away?

2. Which local gives you a better price? Your manufacturer warranty is good in either place. Some dealers get persnickety about servicing a owner's car if they didn't buy from that dealer, but if that doesn't bother you then you should be good. Besides, you'd get to see your Son again :)

3. Take the time between now and then and look for any deals. I'm sure you're already doing that but find out if they have any great financing etc.

4. If you are financing I would get my loan started now. Interest rates are still low!

Any word on schedule release? Can you give us any tidbits? I don't need a new caar immediately, but I'm hoping this will be my next car.

It seems a drive toward simplificication-best Prius ever I think,

Wow great but what about folks in the far burbs and rural areas. A pick up truck or SUV does double duty on the farm as a tow vehicle and off road vehicle and it also can take the kids to school and haul everyone to a horse show. Not everyone wants to live in the city and deal with pretentious little techies who believe that Elon Musk is a God and he and Billy gates can solve all the worlds problems. Ride sharing etc doesn't work in rural America. 4 years of prez Hil and rural America will be in full scale revolt against urban dwellers and the media. Clifton, VA

That was addressed last night as well. What do you do about the Communities left behind? 

Those questions are coming to the forefront - how do you correct some of the problems of the past; how do you bring in the parts of the city that have been cut-off. What are the challenges and barriers? Simply things like, if someone doesn't have a data plan can you still access some of the services?

They didn't have the answers yet, but they are being addressed.

Huh? Here's a theory: Mr. White's mother's friend's daughter just got a new Jaguar for working at home with Google. Yeesh, the comments are bleeding through to the chats.

Good for them! I must tell Michelle, the Jaguar Queen of Northern Virginia.

Lou Ann here:


All of us get hit everyday with emails that are not meant for us. Teddy is sitting in for our regular producer, Gene, and that one got through and shouldn't have.


We're in the market for a 5-door hatchback for commuting and family shuttling (already have a minivan for the big jobs). Contenders right now include the Hyundai Elantra GT and Accent and the Kia Forte5 and Rio. I know that the Hyundai and Kia models are essentially twins, but Kia has lower prices. Any reason for choosing one over the other? Another option we're looking at is the Subaru Impreza wagon (also, please don't tell us about the Honda Fit - we know all about it)

Seriously, take a close look at the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatch, which is well done.

Can a self-driving car be carjacked? There's a reason people don't go certain places at certain times. Not demographics, just common sense.

That's right! We were in a taxi last night and a woman on the street pushing a grocery kart threw a shoe at us.

Homeless in San Francisco - and Auburn - have gotten so bad in the last couple years. One has to be careful where they go.

Waze - the map app - is working on giving different routes based on the amount of crime in certain areas.

Common sense

I know Warren's standard answer is "You have no privacy, get over it." But I'm curious what the industry is (or isn't) doing WRT protecting drivers' privacy over where they're going, what they're doing in the car, etc. What are you hearing from the industry?

It's the question I posed to HERE (watch the link above) and they said that all the information they gather is anonymous. They may know what the car is, but they don't know who owns the car or who is driving it.

Okay, but telling me about the Cruze doesn't answer my question. I asked about what differences, if any, would be reason for choosing a Kia over its Hyundai twin or vice versa.

It's a really good question. In some ways they do duplicate each other.

Peter Schreyer is the top designer for both companies, but the under designers only work for Kia or Hyundai.

The price points would be different. I think of Kia as more utilitarian, but even that is changing. Look at the K900 versus the old Hyundai Genesis (I say old because Genesis is now a company all to itself)

Good question

It happens and is happening. The average new price of a vehicle is $33,865, up nearly 2 percent since 2015. Keeps going up in a world that sees no need to keep paying traditional car costs.How sustainable? Not very

Hello, in your opinion, which of the non-luxury manufacturers is making the best safety technology. I cannot afford, nor do I want, a Mercedes, Audi, BMW, or Volvo, which I am sure all have great technology. Rather, I am in the $30,000 range. I am willing to pay extra to add features, such as Subaru's Eye-Sight package. Thanks for your opinion and work!

Honda - hands down. They have the most standard safety equipment of any company. They had rear view backup cameras on 95% of their cars before it was mandated.

I'm in the market for a cross-over/small SUV style car and reviews I've read generally agree that the Mazda CX-5 is one of the more enjoyable ones to drive. Is that your experience as well or are there others I should consider? Thank you!

Yes, I am driving a CX-9 in San Francisco right now. It is easy to manuever, lots of room to carry all Stretch's junk (throwing my boy under the bus!) and good on fuel economy.

With the rise of autonomous vehicles and the seeming race towards transportation as a service (as opposed to owning your own car), what do you think happens to the popular interest in cars? Seems like once you don't own your own car, and it drives itself, the car industry as we know it essentially dies. IOW, once transportation is a service, who cares about car brand differentiation? For instance, do you care (or even know?) what brand of bus Metro uses? What good is the "ultimate driving machine" when you aren't driving? And what happens to all the ancillaries that grow up around the car industry. For example (and not to put too fine a point on it), is there a place for car reviewers?

What is popular today won't necessarily be popular tomorrow. Change happens. Technology prompts change. Look at your smart phone and related tech.I no longer need to drive to an office, or drive myself, or pay all of the costs of car ownership.

Sorry to these leftist urban dwellers we arent communities left behind. Self driving tech doesn't work on a farm. Yeah it works for seeding, weeding spraying your fields but it just doesnt work when you have 100,00 acres and need to get to that sick lamb on the farthest reaches of your place. Riding sharing and uber just dont work. Also my friends who work for for contractors and various alphabet soup agencies all say they will never drive a self driving vehicle since they can and will be hacked. Security cost money and it would make self driving vehicles sell for the price of RR silver whatevers. BTW if Musk were half the salesman PT Barnum was his net worth would be 20x higher. he is a charlatan and scam artist. Clifton, VA

Glad you didn't have just one view today Clifton.

Will be a godsend for the elderly and disabled, especially in smaller towns and communities where public transport and taxis are limited. I think that companies will find there is a larger market for self driving vehicles in smaller towns and communities than suspected. Services will obviously take a different shape but the need absolutely exists.

I think so as well. Mercedes-Benz concept car had chairs that swiveled out so the elderly - and the celebrities - could sit in the chair and the chair would swivel back into place.

OUr 92-year old neighbor, barbara, has passed on, but she was excited by the prospect.

Is a driver who isnt looking at his/her phone and is aware of what is going around their vehicle. Next time you are the beltway try naming the 8 vehicles surrounding your vehicle by make and model and ID the tag by state. If you cant you arent paying enough attention. You want a full roll cage, 6pt race harness and a tight fitting race seat. Old school technology and full time attention will save your life. CLifton

On a roll today Clifton? Get it - full roll cage :)

I dont' look at the makes and models when I'm driving, I look at them and what they are going to do in order to be prepared in case they make a sudden move.


Ever read and browse the Pete Delorenzo's website. His is even more anti Elon Musk than I am. Clifton, VA

Wow - a club of two

It has little to do with 'LEFTISTS," and everything to do with sustainability. How much higher than $33,865 can most of us afford, or want to afford?

Hey, we see that all the time here on The Other West Coast! It's a wooden turntable that you put in the LeSabre or the Grand Marquis so you can get out easily at Bob Evans. I think they sell them in Parade Magazine.

Thanks - I'll look into it

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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