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Wamp hints at alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer in Chattanooga?

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This article a few days ago on Chattanoogan.com about the GM plant closings quotes U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp saying that the closings will not hurt our chances of attracting an auto assembly plant. He goes on to say that we are well-positioned to attract a manufacturer of the future automobile that will use alternative fuel sources rather than gas. Here is the article's link:

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_76232.asp

Does anyone have a clue as to what he may be talking about and whether or not it actually has substance. I remember reading on here a couple weeks ago about Audi or BMW being the most likely to locate their plant here, so is this the same project, or perhaps something entirely different? I am not aware of either of these companies planning or currently producing any alternative fuel vehicles except for maybe a hybrid. About 2 or 3 years ago a Detroit-based company called Palo Alto was planning on relocating to Chattanooga and opening up an assembly plant here to produce small electric vehicles. This was delayed and then never happened, however, and I never heard what happened to this company or why they didnt open up shop here. Perhaps this has something to do with what he said, but I doubt it.

Why do I think that Wamp may actually be in the know of something big coming? Well first of all, the article about Project Pine Tree told how Senator Trent Lott was right when he said back in 2003 that Kia would open in MS, which they are now all but sure will occur by spring 2006. This is why they believed that Wamp knew that a manufacturer is coming to Chattanooga when he said something about it last summer. So I will take those guys' word for this, since they know much more about the industry than I do. Next, Chattanooga has a history with alternative fuel vehicles, as many of you may already know. We were one of the first to produce electric buses, although that company unfortunately went out of business a couple of years ago. There is a small possibility that Ebus, based in CA, will buy their remaining assets and reopen the plant here under their name, but thats a long-shot. The Advanced Transportation Technology Institute is also based here, and they have now partnered with UTC for hydrogen fuel cell and other alternative fuel research, which UTC has been doing for years now. UTC also has strong ties with ORNL, where much more alternative fuel research has been going on for some time. Given all these together, I do see a small, but significant, possibility of Wamp being right. Can anyone else add to this?

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All I could do is speculate wildly, since I have no idea what Wamp may know, or what specifically he could be referring to outside of what you stated in regards to the already remored BMW or Audi interest in the site and the SE in general. I would figure though he knows something in particular that led him to make that statement, now whether or not what he knows is something definate or just a possibility is another question.

On a seperate point: Welcome to the forum!!!!! Good to see another East Tennessean on the board!

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It's great to welcome a fellow Chattanoogan to the forum! Hope to hear a bunch from you here.

As for the topic, I still believe that it will be either Audi or BMW at Enterprise South. Hopefully an announcement will be forthcoming fairly soon. Word is the company is being especially secretive about it. I'm not aware of any hybrid vehicles being manufactured in Europe, so I really haven't got a clue as to what Wamp is hinting at. He may know something, that's a fact. If it's truly alternative vehicles such as fuel cell, or electric, or hydrogen, then it will be a painfully slow development, IMO. These markets may well develop, but will take years to reach their full potential.

I'm hopeful we can have both... A conventional Audi or BMW plant and an alternative car plant. The site's big enough to support both. Besides, an alternative car plant probably wouldn't require near the acreage anyway. Possibly the Audi or BMW plant would have two production lines. One conventional and one hybrid. Who knows?

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