PHOTO CAPTION: Bright Automotive plug-in hybrid delivery van

Bright Automotive Unveils IDEA Plug-in Delivery Van

The IDEA plug-in hybrid van will be 5 to 10 times more efficient than current commercial fleets.

Published: 21-Apr-2009

At an event in Washington DC today, Bright Automotive unveiled the world’s first purpose-built 100 MPG vehicle aimed at commercial and government fleets. Named the IDEA, the multi-use vehicle falls into the light truck classification. The company announced it plans to produce 50,000 vehicles annually by 2013, providing businesses and government agencies with a highly durable, cost-saving and eco-friendly new vehicle, and creating thousands of American jobs. Bright Automotive showed a fully operating concept version of the vehicle to a crowd that included Members of Congress, White House Officials, media, customer and supplier representatives.

“We created the IDEA by starting with a clean sheet of paper, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough technologies and materials,” said John E. Waters, CEO and President of Bright Automotive. “The IDEA leverages Bright’s highly experienced team and delivers a lower cost of ownership than competing vehicles. At the same time, the IDEA demonstrates technological leadership for the American auto industry and will create thousands of new ‘green collar’ jobs here at home.”

The Bright IDEA

Images of the IDEA are available for download at

Indiana-based Bright Automotive said the IDEA will be 5 to 10 times more efficient than current commercial fleets. The vehicle will save a typical customer more than 1,500 gallons of gasoline and thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually. For the 100 largest fleets in the U.S., each having on average over 1,000 vehicles like the IDEA in their fleet, the savings would average over $3 million a year.

At the same time, each IDEA will reduce emissions and C02 output by up to 16 tons each year over competing vehicles. A key reason for such high efficiency is vehicle weight and aerodynamics: the curb weight target for the IDEA is 3200 pounds – 1500 pounds less than the average competitor with a 0.30 Coefficient of drag (Cd). Bright Automotive provides engineering details, assumptions, and calculations at

To achieve groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is building the IDEA from the ground-up and maximizing platform efficiency by incorporating lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires. On a full charge, the IDEA uses battery power for the first 30 miles, using little or no gasoline and less than $1 of electricity. After this, it functions like other hybrids. As an example of fuel efficiency, for commercial customers with a 50-mile daily urban route, the IDEA uses about 1/2 gallon of gas, which is equivalent to getting 100 mpg. For a 70 mile daily driver, 1 gallon of gas is used, similar to 70 mpg.

Delivering on American Automotive Leadership

Waters continued, “Bright Automotive is ready to deliver on American leadership for the US transportation industry. Quite simply, no other automotive product is available that directly saves customers money and affects their triple bottom line: economics, people, and sustainability. There are millions of similarly sized gas-fueled commercial vehicles on the road today, so the IDEA is more than just a new vehicle – it’s an opportunity to make dramatic change, for our country, for our economy, and for our environment.”

The IDEA is also a more useful and modern vehicle, with features that include a 180 cu ft., 1 ton cargo capacity, ergonomic design, innovative cargo compartment, and a patent-pending passenger seat that converts to a mobile office. From the very beginning of the design process, Bright Automotive consulted with over 50 fleet managers from leading American companies, deeply involving them in the design process. The IDEA, in fact, is the first high-volume PHEV to be designed exclusively for commercial and government fleet use.

High volume production of the IDEA will begin in the U.S. by the end of 2012 – with an annual run rate of 50,000 units beginning in 2013. To produce its vehicle, the company plans to create over 5,000 jobs – directly and through suppliers – by 2013.

Bright Automotive has the most experienced PHEV and electric vehicle team in the industry. Waters developed the battery pack for GM’s first production electric vehicle, the EV1, and other executives and engineers have spent years working for Chrysler, Delphi, Johnson Controls and other manufacturers and suppliers. Just over a year ago, the company launched as a “spin-off” from Rocky Mountain Institute, where it drew on the expertise of visionary organizations, including Alcoa, Duke Energy,, Johnson Controls, and the Turner Foundation.

Support from Great Organizations and Businesses

At today’s event in Washington, executives from two large fleet operators, Duke Energy and Frito-Lay North America, joined Bright Automotive and expressed their support for the IDEA.

Keith Trent, Duke Energy’s Group Executive and Chief Strategy, Policy and Regulatory Officer said, “Duke Energy is proud to be a major utility partner with Bright Automotive. The IDEA and other electric vehicles clearly represent the future of transportation in the U.S. By reducing our dependence on foreign oil, such vehicles will dramatically improve our national security and play a key role in improving our air quality. Both the energy industry and the transportation industry have entered a period of unprecedented change and opportunity. Bright Automotive’s IDEA vehicle is a tangible example of that change and opportunity.”

Lyle Shuey, Bright Automotive VP of Marketing and Sales said, “We worked with great companies – Duke Energy, Cox Communications, and others – to create the most fuel efficient utility vehicle available. The combination of our decades of automotive experience and their expert voice on commercial vehicles allowed us to develop a revolutionary plug-in hybrid electric vehicle unlike any other. The IDEA will deliver 100 mpg for typical customers, perform better on the road or in a crash, costs less to operate, and allows workers to be more effective in their jobs.”

Waters said, “The promise of plug-in vehicles and smart grid technology is not a dream; it is achievable today, here in America. Working with great companies and the most experienced team in the industry, Bright Automotive believes the IDEA can be at the center of a new energy paradigm. We can reduce energy use, save money, and create true sustainability by giving customers what they want, and what they need to perform their jobs better.”

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