Hybrid-vehicle hopeful Bright Automotive folding

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Bright Automotive Inc., an Anderson company that once hoped to become a major hybrid-vehicle player with hundreds of employees in central Indiana, has called it quits.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Energy dated Tuesday, company executives said they could no longer meet payroll and would cease operations.

The letter, to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and signed by Bright CEO Reuben Munger and Chief Operating Officer Mike Donoughe, is highly critical of the Department of Energy for failing to provide Bright with a $450 million low-interest loan.

Bright, founded in 2008, said the DOE essentially strung the company along while it tried to land funding through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program.

The loan would have been used to finance production of the IDEA, Bright’s plug-in hybrid delivery van, which hoped to achieve fuel economy of 100 miles per gallon.

Bright said DOE officials offered four different sets of tentative loan agreements over the three years, but each time beefed up the requirements the company had to meet. The last loan offer, the letter said, “was so outlandish that most rational and objective persons would likely conclude that your team was negotiating in bad faith.”

“In good faith we entered the ATVM process, approved under President Bush with bi-partisan Congressional approval, in December of 2008,” the letter said. “At that time, our application was deemed "substantially complete." As of [Feb. 28], we have been in the ‘due diligence’ process for more than 1,175 days. That is a record for which no one can be proud.”  

Bright was founded in January 2008 at the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute and soon opened an engineering facility at Anderson’s Flagship Enterprise Center. The company was started by John Waters, who in the 1980s and 1990s helped develop General Motors EV-1 electric car. Few employees remain in Anderson.

Bright also employs about 60 workers in Rochester Hills, Mich., where it opened a technology center about a year ago. GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Motors, invested $5 million in Bright shortly before it decided to open the center. The state of Michigan also granted Bright a tax credit of $4.3 million over five years to locate the center there instead of Anderson.

Bright said it planned to build a manufacturing facility employing as many as 1,000 workers and producing 50,000 vehicles a year, possibly in Indiana.

The company announced last October that it was working on a deal with AM General to build vehicles at the Hummer 2 plant in Mishawaka that would have created about 300 jobs. That deal never came to fruition.


  • Library Time
    Go to the library, or get on the internet and research all of the car companies that started and ended in Anderson. It is not about these companies failing, it is about people who had a vision of the future and they tried to make a difference. Less than 1% of all companies started each year are still in business five years later. Does that mean their ideas were wrong? Perhaps it means that cost effective methods for a variety of ideas are still on the back burner. The infrastructure for electric powered vehicles is not yet in place. When people can drive from Anderson to Indianapolis and plug their vehicle into a curbside power supply, these vehicles will make more sense.
  • Air travel
    Preumably FedEx will be using electric air planes
  • Neat little money saver
    It would of been cool if Bright could of produced some affordable hybrid vehicles. They could of let them stay in business and just made sure the vehicles didn't get too good of gas mileage, maybe set them where the gas mileage is better than a regular non hybrid, but not to the point where it saves someone to much in fuel cost. The environment is fine it's holding up pretty good to all the abuse we throw at it and if it makes big profits for oil companies then sign me up. I don't think we need to be inventing alternate fuel or ways to cut back. It's all about money, money, money. Well duh..

    Your friend Satan
  • Read again
    The article specifically notes that GM Ventures gave Bright $5 million.
  • GM back venture
    The bright automotive was a Venture backed by GM. General motors had strategic tie with this company. Surprisingly this article didn't touch any aspect of this



    • Where are we 3 years later?
      Timeline 2009:

      Indiana to Get $416 Million For Batteries & Electric Vehicles

      President Obama has identified six Indiana companies and one university to receive a total of $416 million in federal grants to accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of electric vehicles, batteries and components.

      EnerDel Inc., Delphi Automotive Systems LLC, Allison Transmission Inc., Remy Inc., Magna E-Car Systems of America Inc., Navistar Inc. and Purdue University are all recipients.

    • Oil's Monopoly on Transportation Must Stop
      FEDEX CEO: "We must electrify the transport sector"

      "Only electricity can give the transport sector the flexibility to switch fuels when one or more become too expensive. Electricity from homegrown sources – wind or solar, coal or hydro, natural gas or nuclear – would free America’s mobile economy from dependence on a single source. And unlike some alternatives, the infrastructure backbone for “refueling” electric vehicles already exists in the US national grid, which offers significant spare generating capacity at night, when it is needed for this purpose."

      "I am not someone who tends to advocate for increased government involvement in the private sector. Free-market solutions to these economic threats would be ideal. But there is no free market for oil."

      "Oil addiction has led the US to commit its young men and women in uniform to protecting the world’s oil infrastructure. And it means that western diplomacy is handicapped by the need to placate oil-producing nations, including those that do not share America’s views or values."


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