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GM deal promising for local automaker

August 21, 2010

Now that Bright Automotive has announced a strategic partnership [with] General Motors, we think IBJ should reconsider the title it gave a recent article about the company (Aug 2, “Losing power?”). We’d suggest “Powering up!”

Unfortunately, IBJ’s story was written before Bright announced the GM deal, which brings with it a financial investment, access to GM technology and expertise, and more. This was GM’s first investment out of its newly created venture arm, and serves not only to boost Bright’s ability to produce its revolutionary plug-in hybrid vehicle, but as a substantial endorsement of the company, its business model and its team.

We believe it’s important to clarify a few issues raised in the [IBJ] article. Bright remains in active engagement with the Department of Energy on our loan application for the ATVM program. Bright is far from alone in not having yet received conditional funding; the DOE has not awarded a conditional commitment to any company since October 2009, while over $15 billion remains to be awarded. While we cannot comment on our own active application, we believe that the DOE will soon be issuing new commitments.

The article says that most vehicles drive routes of “less than 100 miles daily.” Actually, our customers’ drive cycles are the opposite—fleet vehicles in our segment drive on average between 25,000-30,000 miles a year, over double that of a typical consumer vehicle. Many of our customers drive much longer than 100 miles, making a pure battery electric-vehicle impractical. It is why the IDEA has a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that can drive upwards of 400 miles before refueling.

The article also mentioned vehicles from Ford and Nissan. However, these two vehicles are not directly comparable [with] the Bright IDEA—which is much larger and more capable. Both the Nissan and Ford EVs are small vans with limited range. The IDEA has the functionality and range of a mid- to large-sized light commercial vehicle, with twice the payload and five times the range as the EV Transit Connect. The IDEA intends to be a “no compromises” vehicle offering the lowest cost of ownership with the highest functionality in its class: we will compete with mainstream vans and trucks—not niche EV products—in the very large commercial light vehicle segment.

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Michael Brylawski

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