Volkswagen outlines plan for electric future at LA Auto Show

(Note: This article was originally published at The News Wheel.)

Volkswagen unveiled the I.D. concept family, a new line of electric vehicles, at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show and said it hopes to start producing EVs in the United States by 2023, pointing to its Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant as the location where it might happen.

In October, the German automaker’s board approved a €34 billion investment in electric mobility and autonomous driving capabilities over the next five years. Its goal is to make a million electric cars a year by 2025 and become the world’s largest electric auto manufacturer.

Starting with Volvo earlier this year (if we count out Tesla), several other brands have recently announced their commitment to an electrified future of mobility. At the LA Auto Show, Volkswagen introduced the new I.D. line of electric vehicles, including the Crozz and the Buzz, the former and SUV and the latter a redesign of the automaker’s famous 1960s minibus.

Read the full story here.

Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Public Information Session

In 2015, Volkswagen (VW) publicly admitted that it had secretly and deliberately installed a defeat device—software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators—in approximately 590,000 model year 2009 to 2016 motor vehicles containing 2.0 and 3.0 liter diesel engines. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against VW, alleging that the company had violated the federal Clean Air Act.

$2.9 billion in settlement funds from the resulting 2.0 and 3.0 liter partial settlements with the federal government will be placed into an Environmental Mitigation Trust, which will fund environmental mitigation projects that reduce NOx emissions. Trust funds will be allocated among beneficiaries (states, certain territories, and tribes) based on the number of impacted VW vehicles in their jurisdictions.

Tennessee’s initial, combined allocation under the approved 2.0 and 3.0 liter partial settlements is $45,759,914.40. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has been identified by Governor Bill Haslam as the Lead Agency for purposes of administering Tennessee’s trust allocation.

TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs (OEP) is planning to hold a VW Diesel Settlement public information session in Memphis. This meeting will provide an overview of the VW Diesel Settlement, the Environmental Mitigation Trust, TDEC’s process for developing a proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan for Tennessee, and an overview of the types of eligible mitigation actions that can be funded by Tennessee’s Environmental Mitigation Trust allocation.

This public information session will be free and open to the public. Please note that registration is required due to space restrictions. Should there be additional demand and interest, TDEC OEP will coordinate and host additional meetings in other locations throughout the State.

  • November 17, 1:30 pm – 3pm Central-Memphis Public Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN: Register here.

For additional information on the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement in Tennessee, please visit TDEC OEP’s website. OEP also advises interested parties to subscribe to its VW Settlement email list. If you have questions, please contact Alexa Voytek at Alexa.Voytek@tn.gov or 615-532-0238

Tennessee’s influence in electric-car sector expanding after Denso announcement

(Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee will be meeting the future demand for electric vehicles, after Denso Corp. announced the company would spend $1 billion expanding its Maryville, Tennessee facility and hire 1,000 workers.

It comes as major automakers prepare to design new fleets of electric cars in response to the popularity of the Tesla electric car brand and the push for battery-powered vehicles overseas.

Denso’s investment would include safety components and systems for purely electric cars powered only by batteries as well as for hybrid vehicles like Toyota’s Prius that back up a gasoline engine with an electric motor.

The expansion would be the largest ramp up related to electric vehicles in Tennessee since Nissan borrowed $1.6 billion from the U.S. government’s green-car initiative in 2009. The company used the money to help cover the cost of preparing the assembly plant at Smyrna in Middle Tennessee for production of the Leaf electric car.

Read the full story here. 

Several ‘National Drive Electric Week’ events scheduled in Tennessee

National Drive Electric Week is happening between September 9-17 this year, and Tennessee has a long list of events celebrating the alternative energy vehicles.

National Drive Electric Week is a nationwide celebration to heighten awareness of today’s widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and highlights the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more.

Started in 2011 as National Plug In Day with the simple idea to hold simultaneous events across the country on the same day, by popular demand the organizations has expanded to an entire week of events and changed the name to emphasize: drive electric. The organization expects National Drive Electric Week 2017 will again grow to include more events in more cities with more drivers reaching out to share the many advantages of driving electric with the public.

Each event is led by local plug-in drivers and advocates and typically includes some combination of EV parades, ride-and-drives, electric tailgate parties, press conferences, award ceremonies, informational booths, and more. Plug In AmericaSierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association serve as the national team providing support to the events throughout the country.

In Tennessee specifically, the following events have been planned:

  • In Memphis on Saturday, September 9 at Shelby Farms park in and around the EV charging stations under the solar panels, owners of electric cars will be on hand to show their cars and share their electric car ownership experiences. This will be happening from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • In Knoxville on Saturday, September 16 at the Whole Foods Market off Papermill, visitors can talk to long-time owners of electric vehicles and learn more about the different electric vehicles available today. Attendees can also learn about public electric vehicle charging stations at Whole Foods Market locations. You’re invited to come by and drive yourself in an all-electric Nissan LEAF from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • In Chattanooga on Station Street next to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, Drive Electric – Chattanooga has been invited to join this “Second Saturdays on Station Street” event. Several EV owners will be in attendance to display their vehicles and to answer questions from visitors. Several displays will also be visible to educate visitors on the many advantages to driving electric. This event is happening Saturday, September 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Wacker Polysilicon talks expansion, company history during TAEBC Energy Connect event

Wacker Polysilicon welcomed more than a dozen people to its facility to talk about the company’s history and its upcoming expansion during TAEBC’s summer Energy Connect event.

Mary Beth Hudson, Vice President of Wacker Polysilicon NA, Charleston Site Manager and TAEBC Board Member provided a keynote address giving those who attended insight into the global chemical company.

With a portfolio of hyper-pure polysilicon for semiconductor and photovoltaic applications, Wacker ranks among the world’s leading manufacturers in this field, offering customers comprehensive, solution-oriented expertise. Wacker’s Charleston, Tennessee facility, which started production of hyper-pure polysilicon in early 2016, represents a $2.5 billion commitment to state of the art, high value added manufacturing in the United States. According to Mary Beth Hudson, Vice President and Site Manager, Wacker is proud of its 650+ employees and 20,000+ metric tons annual manufacturing capability.

Mary Beth also commented that in addition to the Polysilicon plant, the company is excited about its recently announced $150 million investment and addition of some 50 full-time jobs to build a pyrogenic silica plant adjacent to the existing plant. This represents Wacker’s strategic business plan to expand its global footprint in the United States, the world’s second largest chemical market.

“Our vision is to expand our Tennessee plant further, boosting our U.S. production, exports, and jobs while contributing to and supporting the advanced energy sector,” said Mary Beth.