Today, the lawmakers on Capitol Hill caught a glimpse of the next Bright IDEA in America’s automotive future.
Indiana-based Bright Automotive brought its new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle out for its first public showing. The world’s first purpose built 100 mile per gallon vehicle, the endeavor is built on private investment, but the company has applied for a $450 million loan from the federal government to jumpstart production.
At the showing, Bright Automotive CEO John Waters was joined by Carol Browner, assistant to the President for energy and climate Change, Congressman Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican, and executives from Duke Energy and Frito-Lay North America, who have contributed their feedback to the Bright design engineers.
Bright Auto is based at small business incubator, the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson, Indiana. Congressman Pence helped start Flagship, a partnership between Anderson University, Purdue University and the City of Anderson. Since it opened in May 2005, this public-private partnership has helped to start over 55 companies and helped create over 1,200 jobs.
The bright IDEA debuts on Capitol Hill (Photo courtesy Office of Congressman Pence)
Congressman Mike Pence said, “Eastern Indiana has had a long and proud history in electrical engineering and automotive manufacturing. Bright Automotive’s latest concept represents a new generation of technology that is precisely the kind of ingenuity that will carry our nation into a future of energy independence.”
“While the technology is unprecedented, the willingness of Hoosiers to roll up their sleeves and bring their entrepreneurial ethic to bear on the problems facing our state and nation is simply a continuation of a long Indiana tradition,” said Pence.
A pioneer in electric vehicles, Waters developed the battery pack system for General Motors’ first production electric vehicle, the EV1, and subsequent electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
“Bright was formed just over a year ago to bring rapid, revolutionary change to automotive leadership in America,” Waters told reporters.
In early 2008, Bright Automotive launched from the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute with the goal of building on the work of a consortium of organizations, including Alcoa, Google.org, Johnson Controls and the Turner Foundation.
To achieve the IDEA’s 100 mile per gallon fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is incorporating lightweight aluminum and advanced composite materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires to use less combined energy.
On a full charge, the IDEA will operate in all-electric mode for the first 30 miles before switching to hybrid mode for a full range of 400 miles. For a typical drive of 50 miles, the vehicle consumes half a gallon of gasoline – equivalent to 100 mpg fuel efficiency.
Bright Automotive plans to begin high volume production of the IDEA by the end of 2012 with an annual run rate of 50,000 units by 2013.
The IDEA is designed for fleets rather than for individual drivers, and Waters told reporters today that he expects large fleets such as the U.S. Postal Service will purchase his cars. “Some customers have thousands of fleet vehicles getting 10 miles per gallon – the postal fleet averages 10 mpg,” Waters said.
“In our class, the fleet market buys 500,000 cars a year,” Waters said, “they buy on spreadsheet. The IDEA is a way they can cut costs, increase fuel efficiency, get off oil and clean up the skies.”
Waters was not prepared to say how much the IDEA will cost, but he did say that directly and through suppliers, the company will create over 5,000 jobs by 2013. Environment News Service