VW offers Alexa-powered test drives of ID.4 SUV and more business news

VW offers Alexa-powered test drives of ID.4 SUV

Volkswagen and Amazon are set to deliver an innovative new take on the automotive test drive, according to the automaker.

Starting this fall, customers in select regions can schedule an in-person Alexa-guided test drive of Volkswagen's all-electric ID.4 SUV, which is undergoing assembly at the company's Chattanooga plant. Following a brief walkaround of the vehicle with a Volkswagen product specialist, participants will embark on a real-world test drive with Amazon Alexa as their companion, the company said in a news release.

The Alexa-guided test drive is enabled through an Echo Auto device on the vehicle's dashboard. Alexa is able to share information about the ID.4's features, including its battery, charging, blind spot monitor, connecting to infotainment, cost, regular maintenance and more, the release said.

"In our push to bring EVs and electromobility to all, we need to find new and exciting ways to talk to our customers," Andrew Savvas, chief sales and marketing officer for Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement.

Chattanooga Whiskey unveils new release

Chattanooga Whiskey on Friday announced the next release of its Bottled in Bond Series: Fall 2018 Vintage.

The series is crafted at its Chattanooga riverfront distillery and is a single-season, vintage-dated expression of its Tennessee High Malt style, the company stated in a news release.

The Fall 2018 Vintage is the fourth release in the Bottled in Bond series, it said.

To be labeled Bottled in Bond, a bourbon must be the product of one distillation season, distiller and distillery, according to the company. Legally, it must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof, the release said.

"As with previous vintages, our distilling team aimed to create a blend that would pair well with the season, and we're proud to say we think this fall release hits that mark," Grant McCracken, the company's head distiller, said in a statement.

Construction starts at Ford's Tenn. site

MEMPHIS -- Building construction has begun at the future site of a factory where Ford and a South Korean company have joined forces to build electric trucks and batteries in rural west Tennessee, officials said Friday.

Ford Motor Co. said it has broken ground on the construction of steel structures in Stanton, Tennessee, located about 50 miles northeast of Memphis.

Last year, Ford announced a $5.6 billion project to build electric F-Series pickups at the 3,600-acre (1,460-hectare) parcel of land known as the Memphis Regional Megasite.

The project, called BlueOval City, is a joint venture with SK Innovation, which will build battery factories at the Tennessee site and in Glendale, Kentucky.

In west Tennessee, the project is predicted to boost the economies of several counties. Ford plans to employ about 6.000 workers at the plant, while construction of the factory and the arrival of Ford suppliers will create thousands more jobs.

Crews already started ground leveling operations at the site in March, but Friday's announcement marks a key step forward in the construction of the actual factory. Ford has said it plans to start production by 2025.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner