Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / The "ID.4" branding is seen on the lift gate of Mike Purcell's Volkswagen ID.4 at ReMax Renaissance on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Purcell is one of the first in Chattanooga to own the ID.4.

Volkswagen ID.4 named official vehicle of Chattanooga MotorCar Festival

Volkswagen of America is sponsoring the expanded Chattanooga MotorCar Festival this weekend, and its ID.4 electric SUV is the event's official vehicle, according to the automaker.

"In the past decade, we've gone from assembling one model in Chattanooga to three, employing more than 3,500 people here, and investing $4 billion in the region by the end of 2022," said Scott Keogh, CEO and president of Volkswagen Group of America. "Chattanooga will be the launchpad for our American EV transformation with the ID.4, and we're proud to help bring back the Chattanooga MotorCar Festival to benefit worthy causes and celebrate this great city."

During the event, Volkswagen will showcase the future of the auto industry with the ID.4. Volkswagen R Brand Ambassador Tanner Foust will demonstrate the high-performance side of the brand with laps in the new 2022 Volkswagen GTI.


Tennessee solar energy firm buys carbon offset outfit

A Tennessee solar energy firm has bought an organization that helps companies offset their carbon emissions by funding new solar farms, both of which a former governor helped establish.

A news release Thursday says Silicon Ranch Corp. has acquired Clearloop in a deal with undisclosed terms.

Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen co-founded both Nashville-based companies. Clearloop will keep running under its brand name and CEO co-founder Laura Zapata will continue leading the company.

Clearloop offers agreements that enable companies to compensate for their carbon emissions impact by paying to fund new solar panels in communities with the dirtiest electric grids. The company says its partners vary in size and include Intuit, Hello Bello and Patch.

Silicon Ranch is the U.S. solar platform for Shell. The company has already struck longer-term agreements with the Tennessee Valley Authority on solar installments to offset carbon emissions for large companies and erected the solar farm at the Volkswagen of America plant in Chattanooga.


'Blue hydrogen' plant planned in Louisiana

Industrial gas supplier Air Products announced Thursday it will build a $4.5 billion clean energy facility in Louisiana's capital region, a project that Gov. John Bel Edwards said will help the state's work to reduce carbon emissions in the heart of the petrochemical corridor.

The planned complex in Ascension Parish will produce "blue hydrogen," which uses natural gas to produce an alternative fuel with the carbon dioxide emissions captured and stored underground. Air Products said the facility will create 170 permanent jobs with a total annual payroll of $15.9 million, plus thousands of construction jobs to build the site over three years.

Air Products President and CEO Seifi Ghasemi said the Ascension Parish site will be the largest permanent carbon dioxide sequestration facility in the world, helping to capture human-caused emissions and keeping them out of the atmosphere.

"Nothing will come close to it," Ghasemi said at an announcement event with Edwards, local officials and business leaders. "So clearly, Louisiana will be the world leader in sequestering carbon dioxide, which is the key to climate change."


Wholesale prices rose record 8.6% in past year

Inflation at the wholesale level rose 8.6% in September compared to a year ago, the largest advance since the 12-month change was first calculated in 2010.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the increase in its producer price index, which measures inflationary pressures before they reach consumers, was 0.5% for September compared to a 0.7% gain in August. The 8.6% rise for the 12 months ending in September compared to an 8.3% increase for the 12 months ending in August.

The jump in inflation this year reflects higher prices for food and energy and a number of other items from furniture to autos as the pandemic has snarled supply chains and demand has outstripped supply.


United ban extended on vaccine mandates

A federal judge has extended a ban on United Airlines putting employees on unpaid leave for seeking a medical or religious exemption from the airline's requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth, Texas, granted a restraining order Tuesday in favor of employees who are suing the airline over the mandate.

Lawyers for the employees and the airline agreed last month that United wouldn't put the workers on unpaid leave, but the judge wrote that the agreement will expire before he can rule on the merits of the matter. That would leave "hundreds of workers" at risk of being put on indefinite unpaid leave or forced to get a vaccination that violates their religious beliefs or medical restrictions.

The restraining order expires Oct. 26.

The suing employees are seeking to turn the case into a class-action lawsuit. United says about 2,000 of its 67,000 U.S. employees asked for exemptions from vaccination.

A United spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company was working with vaccine-exempt employees on safety measures including testing, face masks and temporary job reassignments.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner