Bright Automotive touts plug-in prototype-WEB ONLY

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Anderson-based startup Bright Automotive Inc. today will reveal plans for a concept version of its “Idea” plug-in hybrid vehicle at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, surrounded by state economic development leaders.

Bright said it plans to begin production of the vehicle by the end of 2012 and claims it could create more than 5,000 jobs by 2013, producing as many as 50,000 vehicles per year.

Bright officials would not comment further about their plans prior to today’s press conference.

The company, which has fewer than 50 employees, is headed by John Waters, who developed the battery pack for General Motors Corp.’s short-lived EV1 electric car.

Bright plans to display the vehicle April 21 on Capitol Hill, which has become a goldmine of federal funding for clean-tech projects.

Walters told that the company must secure $400 million in Department of Energy loans or private-equity capital before June 1 in order to make the production plan a reality.

In a press release, Bright said its first prototype vehicle has a 30-mile all-electric range and 400-mile extended range using the small gas engine. The company claims the lightweight vehicle could achieve 100 miles per gallon for the average driver.

According to Michigan-based Cleantech Group LLC, an industry research firm, Bright doesn’t plan to be a vertically integrated company but will seek partners on several subsystems while maintaining a number of proprietary technologies.

Bright recently raised $11 million in funding. Investors include North Carolina-based Duke Energy’s venture capital unit and White Pines Partners of Boston, according to Cleantech Group.

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