Bright Automotive's Stepping Stone to a Better IDEA

By Bill Moore

Posted: 07 Sep 2009

Bright Automotive is the first company in the world to put into practice the Hypercar concepts first espoused by Amory Lovins more than twenty years ago. Instead of starting with the design of the vehicle and working inward, you start at the wheels and work outward, always looking for ways to save weight and thus reduce the energy needed to propel the vehicle.

The Bright IDEA delivery van is the expression of that philosophy. It is, as explained in the company video below, five times more efficient than any of its competitors, according to company founder John Waters. It is a plug-in hybrid with 30 miles of electric range hauling a one ton (907 kg) payload. It is an attractive and functional vehicle that has garnered the intererst of Duke Energy, Coca-Cola, PG&E, Cox Communications and Johnson Controls, writes Jim Motavalli in his article on the company.

But before Bright's future can be realized, it needs an infusion of capital and has been counting on federal funding like that provided Telsa Motors, makers of the all-electric Roadster. Given the tight capital market, looking for private equity is proving challenging in the current financial doldrums.

Not wanting to wait for the federal tooth fairy or the lottery to provide them with the hundreds of millions they need to launch production, Bright is taking what they've learned from the IDEA project and plan to adapt it to Volkswagen Transporters like that pictured above. While not as light and aerodynamic as the IDEA, Bright Automotive believes their conversion will still result in a vehicle that will have up to 22 mile of all-electric range and when operating in hybrid mode get 57 mpg based on a daily 50 mile driving cycle. That's better than the Prius.

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