Volkswagen and Oak Ridge National Laboratory may work together on future research projects, especially related to diesel engines, the lab’s director said Wednesday.
“There hasn’t been a lot of passenger diesel autos in the U.S, but because of energy efficiency that’s something that will become more important,” said Thom Mason, who took over the lab about a year ago.
Transportation is one of ORNL’s key research areas, Dr. Mason said after speaking at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.
He said the lab’s National Transportation Research Center, a joint effort with the University of Tennessee, already is looking at diesel engines for large trucks.
Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover
Jerry Adams, right, senior partner with Decosimo Certified Public Accountants, speaks with Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Thom Mason Wednesday at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting. Mr. Mason was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting.
“We’re certainly very interested,” Dr. Mason said about tie-ins with VW.
Jill Bratina, a Volkswagen spokeswoman, said VW officials already have had talks to discuss opportunities with ORNL.
“In terms of partnerships, we’re just starting that conversation,” she said. “There is a lot of fantastic research going on there.”
Volkswagen, which plans to build a $1 billion assembly plant in Chattanooga, has come out with a new clean-diesel car. The Jetta TDI gets markedly better gas mileage than a similar vehicle run on gas, according to VW.
Nick Decosimo, outgoing chairman of the Chamber and managing partner of Decosimo & Co., told the group of nearly 900 people that while VW is the city’s biggest business story of the year, the job-growth group put up solid numbers wooing other companies.
Not including VW, he said the Chamber assisted 10 companies announce $335 million in investment and 704 jobs in the past year.
Tom Griscom, the new Chamber chairman and publisher and executive editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, said work has just begun.
“The city has a lot left to do, whether it’s working with VW or working off the platform now of having shown the world this is a great place to live, work and invest,” he said.
While VW is the city’s latest and largest investment, other businesses will come with it, Mr. Griscom said.
One challenge is to make sure the public school system is strong and equipping young people with skills for the jobs that are coming, he said.
Tom Edd Wilson, the Chamber’s chief executive officer, said he can’t recall a time when prospects for the city were so bright.
“I think we’ve hit a turning point,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., urged the business group to give a standing ovation to VW officials on hand.
The senator, sporting a new beard, said the best is yet to come for the Chattanooga area.
“This community in my opinion has just begun to see the fruits of many years of effort,” Mr. Corker said.
During the meeting, Mr. Wilson recognized Perry Betts of www.TravelTrendsLive.com as Chamber ambassador of the year. The North Chattanooga Chamber was the first recipient of the Chamber Council of the Year Award.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...