GM Invests in Bright IDEA ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: GM Invests in Bright IDEA

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

GM Invests in Bright IDEA

GM is investing in Bright Automotive. GM will become a minority owner in the company, while Bright will gain access to GM technologies, and advanced engine and transmission systems, for its vehicle. Bright is working on building a plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle.

I'd say this was significant on a few fronts. A promising company built on creating a plug-in hybrid for commercial purposes is exciting on its own. Commercial vehicles can be perfect fits for electrification. With frequent stops, hybrid commercial vehicles can double or triple their gas savings. The IDEA saves 1,500 gallons of fuel per year vs its competitors while driving 40 miles on all electric and getting 40 mpg in standard hybrid mode.

But it also allows GM to expand on its use of its hybrid technology and parts. By expanding the user base, they can start cutting the costs (increasing scale and all that). Maybe that means they'll be able to cut the MSRP on vehicles like the Volt sooner rather than later.

And, it's a good sign for GM to be investing in others, not just itself. Looks like they are recovering. Either that or they are expanding too fast...

Press release follows:

Detroit, MI and Anderson, IN (August 3, 2010) — Bright Automotive and General Motors today announced they have agreed to pursue a strategic relationship and that GM has provided funding to the Indiana automaker. This is the first funding action by the newly-formed General Motors Ventures, LLC, and it will help accelerate Bright’s production of the IDEA, a revolutionary plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle.

“This relationship is an important step forward for Bright, and a strong endorsement of our highly experienced automotive team and our incredible vehicle,” said Reuben Munger, Bright Automotive Chairman and CEO. “With this deal, Bright gets financial support that puts us on the fast-track toward mass production of the IDEA. And perhaps just as importantly, we gain a strategic partner that is a world leader in electrification.”

The companies signed a memorandum of understanding in July. General Motors Ventures LLC provided funding to Bright this week, and the two companies intend to complete the formal agreements later this year. Upon completion of the agreements and other terms, General Motors Ventures would have a minority stake in Bright Automotive ( and Bright would have access to GM technologies, and advanced engine and transmission systems, for its vehicle.

"Funding early-stage start-up companies is a new way of doing business at GM to accelerate the introduction of innovative technology to support our core automotive business and give us a competitive advantage," said Jon Lauckner, President of GM Ventures. "In this case, our funding of Bright Automotive will accelerate the introduction of advanced propulsion and light-weight technologies in the commercial vehicle market."

“We talked with several leading automakers, but GM clearly had the right vision, the most capable technology, and the closest alignment with our business approach,” said Michael Brylawski, Bright Automotive Executive Vice President. “We are thrilled to work with GM to create American jobs, stimulate technology development, and build an innovative American vehicle that will help reduce oil dependence and cut costs for businesses.”

In developing the IDEA, Bright started with a clean sheet of paper, listened to customers, and took a novel approach to product development that focused on light-weighting, aerodynamics and a highly efficient drivetrain. The result is a multipurpose vehicle for business fleets — the first designed to be highly efficient and provide a clear economic benefit.

The IDEA delivers a positive total cost of ownership to fleet customers by providing significantly greater fuel efficiency than current fleet vehicles in its class. The IDEA operates in electric mode for 40 miles before switching to an estimated 36-mpg hybrid mode for 100+ mpg potential based on daily driving behavior. Bright Automotive provides details on the IDEA at

Funding through GM Ventures will allow Bright to begin ramping-up the development of the production program for the IDEA in the third quarter of 2010. Bright continues to seek a low interest loan through the Department of Energy’s ATVM program. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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