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Indiana company planning hybrid van gets GM backing

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The first investment by General Motors' new venture capital arm is giving a boost to a central Indiana company's plans for building a plug-in hybrid work van.

The $5 million going to Anderson-based Bright Automotive will give General Motors Ventures an ownership stake in the company, which hopes the move will attract other investors and help its bid for a $450 million federal loan.

Bright is considering sites in Indiana and other states for a potential 1,000-worker factory to build up to 50,000 vans a year, company Chairman Reuben Munger. The vehicle would be targeted for use as delivery or repair vans by companies and use both gasoline and electric engines.

"We're looking to make sure we've selected the best site for our vehicle," Munger said. "We are evaluating multiple locations and multiple states and are in a process of narrowing and optimizing our site election in the next few months."

Delays in arranging financing have forced Bright to reduce staff and delay its planned 2012 start of mass production by perhaps two years, Munger said.

The company, which employs 30 people in Anderson, expects to hire 70 more engineers and technicians this year as it ramps up development work.

GM Ventures President Jon Lauckner said the Bright van could fill a market niche for a vehicle smaller than the conventional Chevrolet Express. General Motors executives will consider the van, called the Bright Idea, down the road for possible sale through GM's dealer network.

Idea would have GM's four-cylinder engine and transmission powering the front axle. An electric motor and lithium-based battery would power the rear axle.

Anderson Mayor Kris Ockomon said Bright's partnership with GM is a "huge step" in the right direction for the company and that he hoped it would lead to more good news for his city, where GM once had 27,000 workers.

"This is going to spurn excitement and motion from the Department of Energy," Ockomon said. "Now we have to go to work and make sure this stays right here in Anderson."

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

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