Earlier today, General Motors and Indiana-based Bright Automotive announced a strategic partnership. The deal will help speed up the launch of Bright's plug-in hybrid Idea van.
"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 president of General Motors Ventures Jon Lauckner. "In this case, our funding of Bright Automotive will accelerate the introduction of advanced propulsion and light-weight technologies in the commercial vehicle market."
As per the agreement, GM now stands as a minority stakeholder in the Indiana-based Bright Automotive. The agreement is the first transaction by the newly formed GM Ventures division, and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The alliance will allow Bright access to GM technologies, including engine and transmission systems, for its future vehicles.
In 2008, a consortium of organizations and a group of the nation's best automotive minds came together to build an affordable plug-in hybrid vehicle. Within 12 months, Bright constructed its first concept, the Idea commercial van, capable of running 40 miles on battery power before switching over to a hybrid mode. Once the battery is depleted, the van is capable of an estimated 36 mpg. Bright focused on reducing vehicle weight, while implementing aerodynamics, and an efficient drivetrain, to achieve high mpg figures.
"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."
Now that it has secured a partner, Bright will be on track to produce 50,000 units annually by 2013, creating some 5000 jobs. The efficient vehicle is aimed at business fleets looking to reduce operating and fuel costs. Although a sticker price hasn't been determined yet, Bright says the Idea van will save approximately $0.18 per mile when compared to a similar vehicle. Ford plans to launch an electric version of its Transit Connect sometime next year, which could rain on Bright's parade.
Source: General Motors