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October 19, 2015 | Tom Ballard

autoXLR8R gets praise, ORNL on display during SAC

SAC Made in the SouthBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

The locally-based autoXLR8R received a solid endorsement yesterday during the opening session of the two-day “Southern Automotive Conference” in Nashville.

“It’s a gem in the Southeast,” Rick Walker, President of the Georgia Automotive Manufacturers Association, told the attendees. “It’s another reason this region is the best place to make cars.”

Walker served as both a mentor for one of this year’s teams and speaker during the autoXLR8R program.

SAC brings together automotive executives from throughout the region with associations in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee collaborating. This year’s event attracted a record crowd of more than 1,000 attendees, not just from the multi-state region but from other parts of the country, too.

The East Tennesseeregion was well-represented throughout the conference program. Knoxville resident Jay Rogers, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Local Motors, served as keynote speaker. We’ll have more on his presentation in a post tomorrow.

Two Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) research leaders were panelists – Claus Daniel talking about cutting-edge collaborations to support modern manufacturing, and Lonnie Love on a panel that spotlighted the region’s centers of innovation.

Daniel described work the lab did in about a week for Eagle Bend Manufacturing that solved a critical issue affecting its relationship with an original equipment manufacturer. He also discussed the new Small Business Vouchers Pilot Program previously outlined in a post on

Love, who described himself as a “manufacturing guy,” not an “automotive guy,” focused his presentation on two ORNL core areas – additive manufacturing and composites. They are reflected in the world class Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) and new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).

“Tooling is the real killer app,” Love said in reference to additive manufacturing opportunities.




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