General Motors to Produce Electric Vehicles in Tennessee
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, the TN Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and General Motors (GM) officials announced yesterday that the automaker will invest nearly $2 billion in its Spring Hill manufacturing plant to build fully electric vehicles, including the all-new, luxury Cadillac LYRIQ. This announcement adds to the more than $2.3 billion GM has invested in the Spring Hill manufacturing plant since 2010. It also makes GM the third global automaker to produce electric vehicles in Tennessee, joining Nissan in Smyrna and Volkswagen in Chattanooga. “Tennessee is committed to supporting the growth of advanced manufacturing,” said Gov. Lee, “and in the automotive sector, the focus is on electric vehicles. This substantial investment by General Motors will support our efforts to become a leading state for electric vehicle manufacturing.”
Through this investment, GM’s Spring Hill paint and body shops will undergo major expansions, and the company’s general assembly lines will receive comprehensive upgrades, including new machines, conveyors, controls, and tooling. Renovation and construction will begin immediately. In addition to the new, fully electric Cadillac LYRIQ, traditionally powered Cadillac products, including the XT6 and XT5, will continue to be built in Spring Hill.
Nashville Mayor Cooper Unveils Latest Version of Metro Nashville Transportation Plan
In September, Mayor John Cooper unveiled the newest version of the Metro Nashville transportation strategy. Metro Nashville’s Transportation Plan proposes $1.6 billion in critical projects for community resilience, neighborhood livability, shared prosperity, and system preservation and performance. The plan is informed by 11 public listening sessions that were held throughout Davidson County earlier this year, along with targeted discussions with stakeholders and Metro Councilmembers. The plan proposes core categories that reflect the region’s stated priorities: mass transit, neighborhood infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks, bikeways, greenways), a “state of good repair” for roads and bridges, traffic operations and signals, and safety.
Examples of proposed projects and investments include:
  • A dramatic increase in frequency and span of service for the region’s transit system, as outlined in WeGo’s Better Bus proposal, including the creation of up to ten Neighborhood Transit Centers that would enable access to new crosstown routes;
  • System-performance measures such as more sidewalks and crosswalks; a Traffic Operations Center and signal synchronization activities; bikeways, greenways, and other bike routes; and safety fixes to aggressively drive down traffic injuries and fatalities; and
  • A comprehensive planning effort for improved mobility within downtown Nashville, including curb-space management, smart parking, and transit priority.
The Mayor’s administration is currently soliciting final input on this draft plan prior to consideration by Metro Council for a vote of endorsement. Metro Nashville has opened a survey to solicit comments and feedback on the draft plan. The survey will remain open through October 31.
Piedmont Natural Gas Offers Renewable Natural Gas at Nashville Fueling Station
Piedmont Natural Gas has announced that renewable natural gas (RNG) is now available at its compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Nashville. RNG is pipeline-quality biomethane produced from biomass that is fully interchangeable with conventional natural gas and can be used as a renewable transportation fuel in natural gas vehicles. By fueling with RNG at Piedmont’s Nashville station, fleets and organizations can reduce their emissions footprint and help decarbonize transportation in Tennessee.
Bluesource, an environmental action partner based in Utah, will pair RNG available in the pipeline system with Piedmont’s station, bringing the environmental benefits of RNG to fleet and organizations in Tennessee. Currently, Piedmont operates a network of 11 publicly accessible CNG fueling stations for natural gas vehicles within its three-state service area, and the company plans to continue expanding RNG as an available fuel source in its network.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Testing Hybrid Cruisers for Cost Effectiveness, Environmental Impact
State officials are conducting a real-time experiment to measure fuel cost savings from hybrid vehicles placed into service by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. State Safety and Homeland Security Department officials began phasing in use of 32 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrids in June. The hybrid vehicles cost about $3,000 more than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, but officials hope to recoup that cost or more in fuel savings. The hybrid vehicles feature a combined 25 MPG fuel efficiency average, as compared to a 19 MPG fuel efficiency average for the gasoline counterpart.

Tennessee officials are also tracking the performance of the hybrid vehicles when idling. Troopers' vehicles are often left running, sometimes for hours, with full electronic gear remaining on while writing reports, completing traffic stops, performing accident response and investigation, and other activities. As hybrid vehicles allow for an engine shutoff without interrupting electricity supply, this feature could result in additional fuel savings beyond that achieved from higher fuel efficiency.
Tennessee-Produced All-Electric Volkswagen SUV to Come with Three Years of Free Charging
Volkswagen has announced that customers who purchase its 2021 ID.4 all-electric SUV will receive three years of unlimited charging on Electrify America’s nationwide fast charging network for no additional cost. This network currently encompasses more than 470 fast charging stations nationwide; approximately 800 total fast charging stations are expected to be online or under development by December 2021.

The ID.4, which will be produced at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant, was officially revealed to the public in September. By the end of 2025, a half million ID.4 SUVs will have rolled off the automaker’s assembly lines in Chattanooga, Germany, and China. Volkswagen is investing $800 million into its Chattanooga plant to add space for production of the battery-powered SUV; the company has begun hiring about 150 employees to fill posts related to the ramp up of electric vehicle and battery production.
ORNL, DOE Unveil New Lab for Autonomous Vehicle Research
ORNL and U.S. DOE recently announced the launch of a clean energy research initiative that focuses on connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. The Connected and Automated Vehicle Environment (CAVE) Laboratory at ORNL, which is part of DOE’s National Transportation Research Center, will provide a digital testbed to evaluate intelligent mobility solutions using real-world hardware and data in virtual traffic conditions. The integrated virtual and physical environment will enhance researchers’ ability to accurately verify the large-scale energy benefits and emissions impacts of connected and automated vehicles and other advanced transportation technologies.
TDEC’s Medium and Large Truck Grant Program
On August 27, TDEC released its third solicitation for projects under the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust (VW Settlement EMT). The purpose of the EMT is to execute environmental mitigation projects that reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides. All terms that are both bolded and italicized below are defined in Appendix D-2 of the State Trust Agreement.
Under this solicitation, $6,177,588.45 in EMT funding is available for eligible Class 4-7 Local Freight Truck (Medium Truck) projects and $4,118,392.30 in EMT funding is available for eligible Class 8 Local Freight Truck and Port Drayage Truck (Large Truck) projects. The grant programs, managed by the TDEC Office of Energy Programs, will provide financial assistance to public, non-profit, and private fleets in Tennessee that apply to replace eligible Medium or Large Trucks with any new Alternate Fueled, All-Electric, or diesel Medium or Large Trucks. Additionally, fleets may also apply to Repower Medium or Large Trucks with new All-Electric, Alternate Fueled, or diesel Medium or Large Truck drivetrains.
Medium or Large Trucks eligible for replacement or Repower include diesel 1992-2009 engine model year or older Class 4-7 Local Freight Trucks (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) between 14,001 lbs. and 33,000 lbs.) used to deliver cargo and freight and Class 8 Local Freight Trucks and Port Drayage Trucks (GVWR greater than 33,000 lbs.) used for port drayage and/or freight/cargo delivery.
Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted electronically via the online TDEC Grants Management System, which may be accessed here: must be received by 4:00 PM Central on October 30, 2020. TDEC will announce awards after conducting a comprehensive review and evaluation of all complete and eligible grant applications. Grant contracting efforts will occur shortly thereafter. For more information, click here.
For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website at and sign up for TDEC’s email list here.
Healthy Built Environment Grants
The Tennessee Department of Health announced a Request for Applications for its Healthy Built Environment Grants. The no-match, $800,000 grant program can fund a variety of projects to create or utilize public spaces to increase opportunities for healthy, active lifestyles, including convening, planning, programming, and infrastructure related to healthy built environments (e.g., increased bike access, walkable neighborhoods, affordable housing located near employment and transit opportunities, etc.). The grant program places a high emphasis on promoting health equity; applicants must clearly define a target population that has a built environment need and must demonstrate that their project is something that the community not only needs but wants and supports. Applicants must also demonstrate how they are going to involve the community throughout the process and ensure that they remove any barriers that prevent under-served populations from driving projects in their communities.
Eligible applicants include local and state government entities and non-profit organizations. Applicants may request between $10,000 and $85,000 for their projects, which will run for periods of 12 to 24 months. Letters of Intent to apply are due by 2:00 PM Central on October 29, 2020 and full applications are due by 2:00 Central on January 29, 2021. Click here to view the full Request for Applications and see more information on the grant program.
DERA School Bus Rebates
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2010 allows U.S. EPA to offer rebates and grants to reduce harmful emissions from older, dirtier diesel vehicles. The 2020 DERA School Bus Rebates will offer over $10 million to public and private fleet owners for the replacement of old diesel school buses with new buses certified to EPA’s cleanest emission standards.
Eligible applicants include regional, state, or tribal entities that have jurisdiction over transportation and air quality (including school districts and municipalities) and private entities that operate school buses under a contract with one of these entities. Fleets with up to 100 school buses may submit one application listing up to 10 buses for scrappage and replacement, and fleets with more than 100 school buses may submit up to two rebate applications with each listing up to 10 different buses.
Eligible buses to be replaced include Class 3-8 diesel school buses (greater than 10,000 lb Gross Vehicle Weight Rating [GVWR]) with engine model year 2006 or older that have driven 10,000 or more miles in either the last 12 months or in calendar year 2019, or were in use three or more days per week between September 9, 2019 and February 29, 2020. Selected applicants that scrap and replace their old diesel buses will receive a rebate of $20,000-$65,000 per bus depending on the fuel type of the replacement bus.
Applications for rebates are due October 30 at 4:00 PM Eastern. Click here to view the full application. Click here to view the 2020 DERA School Bus Rebates Program Guide. 
Register Now for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo Webinar Series
The Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Forum & Expo (STF&E) is an annual conference where attendees share and discover projects that can reshape what is possible in transportation and mobility. In 2020, STF&E will be held as a free, online webinar series that will promote research, technology, planning, and policy developments that improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions, and address the mobility needs of all. Panelists and speakers from across the country will highlight best practices to transform transportation systems efficiently, affordably, and sustainably. 
Registration is available for two remaining 2020 STF&E webinar sessions. See time, date, speaker, and topic information below:
November 2, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Central
  • Moderator: Ben Bolton, Energy Programs Administrator, Office of Energy Programs, TDEC
  • Speaker: Andrew Joyner, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University
  • Speaker: Mark D. Abkowitz, Ph.D., Director of Vanderbilt Center for Environmental Management Studies, Vanderbilt University
  • Speaker: Tiffany Rad, CEO and founder, Anatrope, Inc.
November 17, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM Central
  • Clay Bright, TDOT Commissioner
  • David Salyers, P.E., TDEC Commissioner
  • Greg Young, TDEC Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Environment
  • Preston Elliott, TDOT Deputy Commissioner, Environmental and Planning Bureau
Learn more about STF&E at here to sign up for more STF&E news.
SMART Mobility Consortium Webinar Series
U.S. DOE will host a series of Systems and Modeling for Accelerated Research in Transportation (SMART) Mobility Consortium webinars this fall, designed to help participants in this sector deliver new data, analysis, and modeling tools as well as to create new knowledge in support of smarter mobility systems. The webinars will take place at the following dates and times:
For the full list of presenters and registration links as they become available, see the full webinar series schedule here
Balancing the Scales – Equity Analysis in Transportation Planning
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) will co-host a webinar on October 22 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM Eastern, titled “Balancing the Scales – Equity Analysis in Transportation Planning.” Historically, certain individuals and communities, including those from minority, low-income, and limited English proficiency populations, have not benefited equitably from transportation investments and programs. Understanding the impacts of transportation investments on these individuals and communities and taking steps to address inequities is of critical importance for transportation agencies. This webinar will lay out a five-step framework for conducting equity analyses for regional transportation plans and programs, illustrated by case studies. Click here to register.
2020 Sustainability and Emerging Transportation Technology Virtual Forums
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is hosting the 2020 Sustainability and Emerging Transportation Technology (SETT) Virtual Forums on October 29 and November 5 from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM Eastern. The forums will focus on how the rapid advancement of transportation technologies (e.g., connected and automated vehicles) and new approaches to mobility (e.g., shared services) can present difficulty for policymakers to frame incentives, regulations, and market signals to promote all three pillars of sustainability: equity, the environment, and the economy. Speakers will address how academics, policymakers, the private sector, NGOs, and others can work together to shape new mobility solutions to benefit all transportation system users. The virtual forums will be followed by SETT 2021, an in-person conference scheduled for June 29-July 1, 2021. Click here to view the full virtual forum program. Click here to register.
New Report: Transportation Electrification in the Southeast
A new report by Atlas Public Policy and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Transportation Electrification in the Southeast: State of Technology Deployment and Investment in Manufacturing, defines key indicators that outline the state of transportation electrification in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. According to the report, the Southeast region claims a large proportion of the nation’s passenger electric vehicle manufacturing investment and employment, which is on the rise with new models entering the market. The region is also home to several medium- and heavy-duty manufacturing facilities as well as electric vehicle charging station manufacturers that all stand to grow through an expansion of the market in the region. With regard to Tennessee specifically, the report highlights that Tennessee claims more than 37% of the Southeast region’s electric vehicle manufacturing jobs and investment compared to its 11% share of the region’s population. Additionally, Tennessee’s passenger electric vehicle market has grown since 2018 and sales were down only 8% in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019. This is a less significant decline than the 29% drop seen across the national electric vehicle sector as a result of COVID-19. For more information, read the full report.
Alternative Fuels Demonstration Library
Tennessee Clean Fuels recently released a video series of electric vehicle owner testimonials and fleet success stories in celebration of the 2020 National Drive Electric Week. These videos are a part of the newly launched Alt Fuels Demonstration Library (AFDL), a YouTube Channel with curated video demonstrations, tours, testimonials, webinars, and other content that informs viewers about the benefits of alternative fuels. Tennessee Clean Fuels will continue to add videos to the AFDL channel on ethanol (E85), biodiesel (B20 and other blends), natural gas (CNG, LNG, RNG), and propane (LPG) in the future. Click here to learn more.
Visit the TDEC Office of Energy Programs Website at
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