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Bright Automotive Pulls the Plug

Latest electric vehicle maker to shut down.

by on Mar.01, 2012

The Bright IDEA plug-in truck was designed to deliver 40 miles on battery, 36 mpg on gas -- and target a segment that generated nearly 1 million annual sales.

Ambitious electric vehicle maker Bright Automotive, which initially lured in the financial support of General Motors, has pulled the plug, the latest casualty in the shake-out of the still-emerging battery-car market.

Bright blames its demise on its failure to secure a Department of Energy loan needed to bring a planned plug-in hybrid delivery van to market.

The failure of the suburban Detroit start-up comes months after the collapse of Aptera, a California electric vehicle wannabe that had hoped to market an aircraft-like battery-electric vehicle.  Like Bright, it had failed to secure the necessary financing to translate its plans into production.

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Critics contend the nascent battery car industry is in danger of short-circuiting as the DoE reins in a once lavish program to provide funding for an array of battery car programs.  The government has provided some support to a handful of makers, including established automotive giants Ford and Nissan, as well as some start-ups, notably California’s Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive.


Is There A Bright Future For Bright Automotive?

by on Dec.17, 2010

Un-plugged for now: the Bright Idea.

What appeared to be a bright future is now a bit more cloudy for Bright Automotive, one of the many start-ups hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in electric vehicles.

Launched in January 2008 by the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, Bright seemed poised to be one of the first makers to come to market with a competitive battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.  But battered by the recession and the tightening of the money markets, the spin-off has retrenched and is rethinking its strategy, but Bright still hopes to become a contender in the potentially lucrative electric vehicle market, contends its new chief operating officer.

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“We had to hit the pause button on our production program,” acknowledges Mike Donoughe, who signed on as Bright’s CEO in August.

The firm had been hoping to carve out a niche in what many believe will be the most promising segment of the battery-car market with the Bright Idea.  The plug-in hybrid delivery truck, which was previewed at the 2010 Washington Auto Show, was slightly larger than the Ford Transit Connect, a pure battery-electric offering that is just going into field testing.


GM Invests $5 Million To Charge Up EV Truck Maker

Maker plans to partner on development of high-efficiency commercial vehicle.

by on Aug.03, 2010

The Bright IDEA is designed to deliver 40 miles on battery, 36 mpg on gas -- and target a segment of nearly 1 million trucks annually.

General Motors’ new venture capital unit is investing $5 million to help a struggling Indiana start-up bring its high-mileage plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle to market.

Bright Automotive originally had hoped to launch sales of its IDEA truck by 2012 but got sidelined by the global economic crisis.   Now, with GM’s cash – and technology – the start-up company believes it can put the project back on track by 2013 or 2014, targeting a lucrative fleet vehicle market that accounts for nearly 1 million sales annually in the U.S. – and even more abroad, Bright officials say.

“Our program has been put on hold for some time, but our partnership will reinvigorate the IDEA,” said Bright Automotive Chairman and CEO Reuben Munger, during a joint teleconference with John Lauckner, the president of newly-formed GM Ventures.

Plug In!

As originally envisioned, IDEA is a lightweight, highly aerodynamic plug-in hybrid that will yield nearly 40 miles on battery power alone and then get as much as 36 mile per gallon in gas-electric mode.   The new partners said they have not resolved some specific technical details of the updated commercial vehicle but Bright is now likely to turn to GM to provide one of its inline-four-cylinder engines for the project.