Bright Automotive will shut down after the maker of the extended-range plug-in utility vehicles said the federal government took too long to make good on its planned loans to the Michigan-based company, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing a letter company executive sent to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu yesterday.

Bright Automotive, which applied for about $400 million in loans in 2008, had been told for the past 18 months, that the loan was close to funding, but things just took too long. Bright warned the DOE that time was running short just a week ago, saying "If our ATVM application is not moved forward to the next level by March 2, 2012, our mission ends. Period." Yesterday's letter says, in part:

Last week we received the fourth "near final" Conditional Commitment Letter since September 2010. Each new letter arrived with more onerous terms than the last. The first three were workable for us, but the last was so outlandish that most rational and objective persons would likely conclude that your team was negotiating in bad faith.

(Find the full text of the harshly worded letter after the jump.)

The company, which also received a $5 million equity investment from General Motors, had planned to use an old Hummer plant in Indiana to build its Bright Idea utility van by 2014, the Journal said, but reports of problems have surfaced before.

Bright Chief Operating Officer Mike Donoughe made a public statement late last month saying it was ready to add as many as 2,500 direct and indirect jobs through its vehicle production but needed its loan request to be processed "swiftly." Ford, Nissan and Fisker are among advanced-powertrain vehicle makers that have received loans from the federal government.

"This program is an unmitigated disaster."

Michael Brylawski, who co-founded Bright and was an executive vice president there, told AutoblogGreen that the bigger question is about the ATVM program itself. When the government says it will dump $25 billion into one sector of the economy, that changes things, he sadi. "In theory, this is not a hostile administration [to plug-in cars]," he said, so the disconnect between the expressed promotion on one hand and delays in getting ATVM money out the door on the other is incredible. "[The delay] hasn't only distorted the market, it killed the market," he said. "This program is an unmitigated disaster. There needs to be some real answers coming forth from our community."

Bright planned to make a vehicle that would be able to go about 40 miles on electric power alone before a gas-powered generator kicked in to give the van a range similar to that of the Chevrolet Volt. Bright was founded in 2007 by a consortium of Google.org, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Turner Foundation, Alcoa, and Johnson Controls.

What happens next? Brylawski said that the technology and engineering in the van remains an asset of the company, so "we're trying to get value from that, but Bright Automotive is winding down." The business model and the product still has merit, and the vehicle was really progressing to be something special. The prototype (pictured above) is almost three years old, but because there is a need to protect the intellectual property, Bright can't disclose images of the updated van, but "it was looking awesome," he said. Who knows where it may appear next.

Sebastian Blanco contributed to this report.


Show full PR text
February 28, 2012

Secretary Steven Chu
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, D.C.

Dear Secretary Chu,

Today Bright Automotive, Inc will withdraw its application for a loan under the ATVM program administered by your department. Bright has not been explicitly rejected by the DOE; rather, we have been forced to say "uncle". As a result, we are winding down our operations.

Last week we received the fourth "near final" Conditional Commitment Letter since September 2010. Each new letter arrived with more onerous terms than the last. The first three were workable for us, but the last was so outlandish that most rational and objective persons would likely conclude that your team was negotiating in bad faith. We hope that as their Secretary, this was not at your urging.

The actions – or better said "lack of action" -- by your team means hundreds of great manufacturing and technical jobs, union and non-union alike, and thousands of indirect jobs in Indiana and Michigan will not see the light of day. It means our product, the Bright IDEA plug-in hybrid electric commercial vehicle, will not provide the lowest total cost of ownership for our commercial and government fleet customers, saving millions of barrels of oil each year. It means turning your back on a bona fide step forward in our national goal to wean America away from our addiction to foreign oil and its implications on national security and our economic strength.

In good faith we entered the ATVM process, approved under President Bush with bi-partisan Congressional approval, in December of 2008. At that time, our application was deemed "substantially complete." As of today, we have been in the "due diligence" process for more than 1175 days. That is a record for which no one can be proud.

We were told by the DOE in August of 2010 that Bright would get the ATVM loan "within weeks, not months" after we formed a strategic partnership with General Motors as the DOE had urged us to do. We lined up and agreed to private capital commitments exceeding $200M – a far greater percentage than previous DOE loan applicants. Finally, we signed definitive agreements with state-of-the-art manufacturer AM General that would have employed more

than 400 union workers in Indiana in a facility that recently laid-off 350 workers. Each time your team asked for another new requirement, we delivered with speed and excellence.

Then, we waited and waited; staying in this process for as long as we could after repeated, yet unmet promises by government bureaucrats. We continued to play by the rules, even as you and your team were changing those rules constantly – seemingly on a whim.

Because of ATVM's distortion of U.S. private equity markets, the only opportunities for 100 percent private equity markets are abroad. We made it clear we were an American company, with American workers developing advanced, deliverable and clean American technology. We unfortunately did not aggressively pursue an alternative funding path in China as early as we would have liked based on our understanding of where we were in the DOE process. I guess we have only ourselves to blame for having faith in the words and promises of our government officials.

The Chairman of a Fortune 10 company told your former deputy, Jonathan Silver, that this program "lacked integrity"; that is, it did not have a consistent process and rules against which private enterprises could rationally evaluate their chances and intelligently allocate time and resources against that process. There can be no greater failing of government than to not have integrity when dealing with its taxpaying citizens.

It does not give us any solace that we are not alone in the debacle of the ATVM process. ATVM has executed under $50 million of transactions since October of 2009. Going back to the creation of the program, only about $8 billion of the approved $25 billion has been invested. In the meantime, countless hours, efforts and millions of dollars have been put forth by a multitude of strong entrepreneurial teams and some of the largest players in the industry to advance your articulated goal of advancing the technical strength and clean energy breakthroughs of the American automotive industry. These collective efforts have been in vain as the program failed to finance both large existing companies and younger emerging ones alike.

Our vehicle would have been critical to meet President Obama's stated goal of one million plug- in electric vehicles on the road in 2015 and his commitment to buy 100 percent alternative fueled vehicles for the Federal Fleet. So, we are not the only ones who will be disappointed.

The ineffectiveness of the DOE to execute its program harms commercial enterprise as it not only interfered with the capital markets; it placed American companies at the whim of approval by a group of bureaucrats. Today at your own ARPA-E conference, Fred Smith, the remarkable leader of FedEx, made the compelling case to reduce our dependence on oil; a product whose price is manipulated by a cartel which has caused the greatest wealth transfer in our history from the pockets of working people and businesses to countries, many of whom are not our allies. And yet, having in hand a tremendous tool for progress in this critically strategic battle -- a tool that drew the country's best to your door -- you failed not only in the deployment of funds from ATVM but in dissipating these efforts against not just false hope, but false words.

For us, this is a particularly sad day for our employees and their families, as well as the employees and families of our partners. We asked our team members on countless occasions to work literally around the clock whenever yet another new DOE requirement came down the pike, so that we could respond swiftly and accurately. And, we always did.

Sincerely,

Reuben Munger CEO
Mike Donoughe COO


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 92 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      PR-a few responses. Would also be helpful for you to show your name as I am doing. Transparent communication is always better, although it's definitely not the norm in comment sections where it's easier to attack issues with incomplete information than engage in an intellectually honest discussion. Here is my go: "Hopefully Brylawski...That isn't how professional organizations handle PR releases." I agree with you actually. Unfortunately, Bright is winding down. I'm unemployed. These are my personal views, not of a company that is no longer a going concern. I thought I would add first-hand commentary here. It enriches the discussion. As to your views on PR should be handled, look back to how Bright--who had the best PR representation in the business--handled its PR affairs. Like everything the Company did, it was top notch and extremely professional. For anyone who cares, judge the actions and records of the Company. We have a four year record. Just search for Bright Automotive, even on ABG, to see how we handled PR. "Michael Brylawski's posts show his failed understanding of the goal of the ATVM program. Brylawski complains that the ATVM will kill EV startup companies, and is therefore not being run well." That is not my point at all. The ATVM program indeed--as I pointed out below--was to help fund the development and manufacture of fuel-efficient (not necessarily electric, but 25% more efficient than the 2005 baseline vehicle) vehicles. It's very clear as to the original purpose of the program, and the ruling is very clear as well. It was open to all companies, big and small (the bigs that got loans included Ford and Nissan, which together received 85% of the total ATVM funds). Talking to the original writers of the legislation, it was originally intended to be about 80% allocated to established entities and 20% to "innovative" like Tesla and Bright. Most of the credit subsidy was oriented towards the latter. Distorting the market for private capital was an initial unintended consequence of the program. Of course private equity was available before ATVM. Again, if you look at the fact base, you'll see we raised over $30M of private equity, much of it pre-ATVM, without any government funding. Pre the ATVM funding in late 2008, we were on a fully private path. We started the efforts to launch company in 2006 before the EISA legislation was passed. Again, look to who got the private funding and when--90% to the two ATVM recipients after their loans. If your argument then that ATVM "stimulated" that funding--which I believe you are arguing--than you are reinforcing my exact point that, for better or worse, the DOE became the entity that picked winners and losers.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        What was the COST of the VC and Bank funding available to Bright compared to the ATVM loan? How much would those funding costs increase the price of your product? You should be very familiar with these numbers, and if you really want open dialog about the ATVM program, these are the core questions. Nothing else really matters. You talk about pre-2008 path. As you know, the entire lending industry (including VC) went completely dead due to the 2008 global credit crunch. You certainly may have had private funding opportunities before this happened. Are you claiming that without the ATVM, Bright would have magically been able to borrow money post-2008 crash where the whole rest of the world couldn't? Your company was dead without funding and without the opportunity of the ATVM loan. VC knew this. Banks knew this. I'm certain if you are honest, you would admit you knew this too. In 2008, there were no winners or losers for the gov't to pick. There were only losers, and there would still be only losers well into 2010-11 in the EV startup market sector had there been no ATVM loan. Is this clear to you? The ATVM program was a fortunate lifeline that gave Bright a chance to attract VC in the post-2008 credit crunch that would not have been available at all. VC wasn't going to save Bright in the absence of the ATVM program. In fact, VC would have walked away from the entire EV startup sector, and the only EV's that would now be anywhere near market would all be from major manufacturers. But instead of being GRATEFUL for the opportunity that was handed to you where no other opportunity would have existed, you say that "Bright's wind-down were 100% political (or maybe 50% political and 50% bureaucratic)". How is this taking personal responsibility? You can't make the claim that "the whole leadership team takes personal responsibility" and then throw the car into a 180 degree spin and then say 100% of the wind-down is the fault of somebody else. I'm sorry, but you just look petulant when you do that sort of flip-flop.
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good grief, no wonder serious manufacturers don't want to write on ABG! I ask some questions of Micheal Brylawski, and before he can answer, up bustles the self important PR with not one, but 3 rants about a business he knows absolutely nothing about! PR, you had you say, (some might say far too much) Just let Micheal answer my questions, and provide his insight without you butting in. Fair enough, now take a deep breath, and listen for change .....
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Oh marco, you dumb@ss. What part of Brylawski saying "This is my last comment" don't you understand? He's not going to answer your questions. But you actually knew that when you constructed a post specifically designed to get as many attacks on me as you possibly could. You've got your head so far up your @ss, you can't even hear what Brylawski is saying. Which is also why you asked questions that he has already answered. If you even bothered to READ his posts before you constructed a post specifically designed to insert as many insults directed at me as you possibly could. You are a serious bore who is just way too predictable. Every day you show up at exactly the same time. You log into multiple accounts and downgrade every comment I've made by -2, then you search high and low through all the threads to figure out any way possible to attack me, attack dan, and attack electronx16 in your petty childish routine. booooring!! Get a new trick little pony. Oh, and have you apologized to Hxxxx Rental Cars for fabricating a violent fake employee with a fake ethnic sounding name yet? You seriously should stop doing that crap.
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          PR, as terrible a person as marco is, you've made him look nice and measured in this thread. the disparity between the value of what you say and what you think your opinion is worth is astounding. if I had the power to silence just one person here it would be you. that you would mock an EV insider for coming here is unbelievable and the number and sizes of messages you posted.. most EV execs should come here. Steven Chu should come here. it would alleviate their ignorance, particularly Steven Chu. Michael's only mistake was not coming sooner. and answering you more than once
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          Dan said "Steven Chu should come here. it would alleviate their ignorance". Thanks Dan for unwittingly pointing out the absolute absurdity of Brylawski trying to litigate his beef against Steven Chu here in an ABG comment section. Obviously Steven Chu has better things to do running the Energy Department than show up here so you (a guy from Europe) and marco (from Australia) can insult him and tell him how to do his job. In fact, that would be illegal for him to do so, since there are strict laws about foreign influence in the US gov't. It is illegal for you to donate to US candidates, and any efforts to affect US policy through lobbying US officials must be registered through the State Department. Steven Chu isn't going to go to any 2-bit blog site and start taking policy comments in the blog section. If you want to contact DoE, here is how you do it: http://energy.gov/about-us/contact-us You thinking that Steven Chu needs to answer to YOU personally, in the comments section of any blog site shows the complete absurdity of this whole thing. These matters should be handled professionally, not in the comments section of a blogsite. The absolute absurdity of the idea of Steven Chu showing up here in the comments section, should be a lesson to Micheal Brylawski about the absurdity of him doing the same.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          PR, Are you having some kind of fit? I repeat, I am not interested in your ranting, but I was interested in what Micheal Brylawski was saying. This was a unique oppourtunity for readers of ABG, to hold a conversation with a real EV manufacturer. Sadly, that oppoutunity has been lost due to your inflated ego, discourtesy, and gratuitous offensiveness. Why must you always find it necessary to butt into other peoples conversations, with your paranoid delusions. Seek professional help. In the words of another poster, "get a life!"
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          @ PR, DF, what can I say,? You don't often make sense, but when you do it's a very welcome surprise ! I hope yours kind words are some comfort to Micheal Brylawski, during this difficult period for him! I have also just read your questions to Micheal which were very pertinent and interesting. I never thought i would hear DF, say something as rational as, "but for a van application where aerodynamics are fundamentally problematic and it carries heavy cargo, I don't think the gain is great."! One of the problems when I am travelling, is some of the comment don't registers on my laptop. (mostly, comments within comments, don't open on wifi )! Since I'm usually out of syc with the US time zones, it can be a bit difficult. Next month I am visiting A.P. Moller – Maersk Shipping Group. I shall think of you when I visit the little mermaid. (Incidentally, did you know there's a very similar statue in Napier NZ, called Pania of the reef. )
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        But heck marco, thanks for finally admitting over in the Bieber post that the whole reason you follow me around this board like a pre-teen girl following Justin Bieber is that you are on some crusade to "dish it" to me in some revenge fantasy you have. Bring it on.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's my full take on why I believe ATVM "killed the market" (as in equity for a company like Bright): When the Bush admin and a bi-partisan Congress passed the ATVM legislation as part of the 2007 EISA act, for "green retooling" loans, the intent was strong and clear: incent domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient vehicles by providing strategic debt capital. With billions being poured into the sector by other sovereign nations, the idea was to make sure "we don't import oil AND cars, not just oil." Sec. Chu described the program as solving the "Valley of Death" issue also described in Geoff Moore's "Crossing the Chasm," where innovative technologies often fail at the early commercialization stage as they try to bridge the laboratory and the customer. Banks tend to be risk averse and non-strategic; VC in the meantime can't fund the immense capital required for clean-tech enterprises (which require 10-100x the capital to get to market than the typical IT investment). The unintended (or maybe intended, who knows) consequence of $25B in the sector was a major market distortion. With that much capital in the market, private equity, VC, and banks had no incentive to fund 100% privately, and did not want to compete with treasury-funded debt (which carried a sub 2% interest rate). Thus of the 200+ investors we talked to all demanded ATVM $ as part of their investment. Tangible proof can also be seen in where the green auto $ went to: over 90% of the private funding went into Tesla and Fisker after their ATVM loans. ATVM wasn't our business plan--which was monetizing efficiency through platform efficiency and electrification to fleets--but our only avenue to domestic manufacturing. Opportunities were ample abroad, but it would be ironic for a startup born from RMI to take key American IP and know-how, and ultimately factory jobs, to China. We'd then be back to importing cars not to import oil. The market distortion turned into market destruction when ATVM stopped giving out loans after the Fisker loan in the fall of 2009. Since then, out of a $17B allocation from Congress (and a $4B credit risk subsidy write off, meaning they could fully write off $4B of loan), they've given exactly $50 million of loan--that's 1/3 of 1 percent in two and a half years. Thus, if ATVM is not funding, and private won't fund in the U.S. without ATVM, it is pretty clear why you are seeing the road littered with the carcasses of many a failed EV startup. The reasons of Bright's wind-down were 100% political (or maybe 50% political and 50% bureaucratic) and tied to an extremely flawed execution of the ATVM program. It's unclear if our kill was intentional or unintentional, but the process and results (described in the letters) speak for themselves.
        EVnerdGene
        • 2 Years Ago
        I sympathize, even empathize. Been there. But when your plan is based on gov'ment/welfare/loans, it makes people lazy and stupid. Like one aspect of our welfare system: Dept of Ag. manages our foodstamps program. (Shocking increase in the past few years.) Dept of Ag also manages our national parks and often states "don't feed the animals, it makes them dependent and eventually unable to fend for themselves."
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 2 Years Ago
        Michael, in retrospect, should you have done conversions of existing vans instead of trying to make a van from scratch?
          EVnerdGene
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          I'm agreeing with Dan. Sprinter van or the little Ford van. Piece of cake conversions - as opposed to spending hundreds of millions to build a vehicle from scratch, tooling, production lines, massive inventory, having engineers flying all over the world to meet/spec/inspect components. Like Frisker has done with the Karma. Close to a Billion invested in a ground-up takes quite a volume to recoup.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Dan-great question. We did make conversion vehicles, such as a VW Transporter we converted with our own road-coupled drivetrain, that was used in the Department of Defense fleet. We also converted a US Postal LLV (to all EV, based on its low daily miles driven) that is still in use in Washington DC. Conversions are a great technical approach, but the challenge is the overall TCO (total cost of ownership) economics are challenging. The "Catch 22" is the TCO is significantly lower with a new platform. Why? With a new platform you can switch to lighter materials, more aerodynamic construction, and lower parasitic losses (and while you are at it make it more functional for the users as you are designing from scratch around their specific voice of the customer). This efficiency means your powertrain can be less powerful for the same level of performance, and your energy storage needs (i.e., battery pack size) can be a lot smaller and cheaper. In the end, this "system" is a lot more affordable when looking at the lifecycle costs. Fleets, unlike consumers, purchase on these lifecycle costs. So for us, the "new vehicle" approach was a better market proposition. The catch 22 is the better TCO comes with a significantly steeper investment. A top-notch conversion program, when factoring in ED&D and manufacturing, is likely in the $15-30M range of investment. A new platform like ours, even when using a lot of "off the shelf" stuff, is 10-15x this cost. Thus was our challenge in having to raise this money ultimately to make a product that we were confident would work in the market place. We almost made it...
          Dan Frederiksen
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          how much more efficient would it be in a given application like US postal? I'm extremely well aware of how lossy conventional vehicles are but for a van application where aerodynamics are fundamentally problematic and it carries heavy cargo, I don't think the gain is great. so I ask again, rhetorically, should you have done conversions of existing vans instead of trying to make a van from scratch. can you learn from the failure and start a new doing conversions.
      PR
      • 2 Years Ago
      This was a failure of Bright Automotive, and nobody else. They need to take personal responsibility for their failure instead of blaming the gov't. It is better to shutter their doors now than after they got the loans. Their vehicle isn't even that special. It is basically the exact same thing as the Chrysler EV Minivan that was part of their ENVI line of cars back in 2008. The loan would be better spent getting that van out of mothballs and putting it into production. http://www.motortrend.com/future/future_vehicles/112_0809_chrysler_envi_electric_vehicle_plans/viewall.html This isn't any different than right-winger's blaming the Bank Failures on the Gov't. Its this whole mentality of blame the gov't for everything, including granny's gout.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unmitigated disaster? From a government program? :| That said, if the government is the only place they could get money...no warren buffet....no green venture capitalists....no Toyota (like with tesla)..,.one has to wonder...
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        Yeah, i agree. I like the idea a lot but i'm skeptical when a company seems to only be able to get money from our government.
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      They can associate with via motors and share their technology both are plug-in hybrid trucks of the same size.
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sad to see. The administration has gotten so gun shy of possible losses (and GOP led PR black eyes ala Solyndra) that they've ended up strangling several projects they'd said they would give loans to and who were counting on them. There is obviously a market for this type of vehicle (when you see all the vans driving around)...sad.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        It is indeed a shame to see short-term political considerations taking precedence over long-term results. Fisker has plenty of private capital to fall back on, but these smaller companies might have to go the route of licensing their IP to bigger makers.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Because of ATVM's distortion of U.S. private equity markets, the only opportunities for 100 percent private equity markets are abroad." What? There's lots of private equity in the US. Ask any Silicon Valley startup. I think this statement needs a few more qualifiers in order to be true.
      Nick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why didn't they attempt to get private investors? Can they license the tech to another company, and recoup their loss over time? It seems like a very nice vehicle.
      • 2 Years Ago
      As a person cited in the article thought I'd respond to some of the comments. Hard to convey some of the finer points here, but I'll try. It's not "best practice" to get into the comments section, as the discussion can be "lowest common denominator", but I'm in favor of open and honest dialogue. Great discussion overall. "Why didn't they attempt to get private investors?" We did and were able to agree to over $220 million of private investment to meet the third term sheet the DOE gave us. Also note we were privately funded from the beginning, having raised over $30 million to date. In the end we never got any funding from the DOE, stimulus or ATVM. "This was a failure of Bright Automotive, and nobody else. They need to take personal responsibility." I think you'll find the whole leadership team takes personal responsibility. We had to let go of 60 fine people and, personally, this has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. 85% of the company had been on a deferred salary plan (the leadership team was not paid since November), and several people (like myself) put a good chunk of their own savings in the company. The issue was not blaming the DOE for not funding us, it was for consistently promising us that this funding was "weeks away" for the last year and a half after we secured a strategic partnership. It never happened. "If they can't survive without the loan, I think the DOE probably made the right decision to be strict on the loans. One of the key requirements is matching equity from the private sector." You correctly point out we agreed to the matching equity, far above what any other recipient had to do. We also could survive without the loan, but only as an engineering services business (our eSolutions unit). Developing and engineering a vehicle is a very expensive proposition, taking hundreds of millions of dollars. It's like constructing a power plant, stadium, office building, etc. It's project finance. You invest money, build your product, and then sell it. To require a business to be profitable in the investment phase is like asking a plane to fly while it's being built. The key is financial and technical viability (that our project was viable and could repay the loans, and that the technology was viable and would work), which the DOE said we passed in early 2011. In fact, our technology was in use in the DOD fleet, and we had numerous large Fortune 500 customers provide purchase orders and letters of support, directly to the DOE. "If they couldn't, then much smarter people than the DOE and present administration said..." This is a fantastic point. As the GAO report on ATVM pointed out, the DOE lacked any automotive or financial background to make assessments on the viability of an applicant. The lack of automotive expertise was a real pain point for us, and one reason the process was as long as it was. It was a 3+ year education session on automaking, vehicle sales, the fleet market, electrification, program management, etc
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        Thank you for the insight into the program.
        Nick From Montreal
        • 2 Years Ago
        Michael, Thank you for the detailed response. Very few would imagine the internal battles that went on in a auto startup like yours. I think we've reached a point in EV auto startups where the winners have already been chosen and established automakers (Nissan, GM, Ford, Toyota) are cautiously filling the void with new products. The window for the creation of new US automakers has been shut and sealed. Its obviously not fair to Bright and others and your assessment is correct: the government has already placed its bet & won't be going further. If that's any consolation, western general aviation has had similar problems and two of the top selling firms (Diamond & Cirrus) have been acquired by Chinese and middle eastern investors in 2011. They just couldn't get financing from the private sector -- and that's with over 200$M in annual sales. The western world doesn't value manufacturing anymore.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any rational reader of this commentary will be able to read through the BS and see that Michael is simply trying to get the "Bright story" out there. Thank you Michael, and get a life PR.
      • 2 Years Ago
      PR-I'll leave it up to the readers to decide if they'd rather read open and honest commentary from an insider to the situation or as you say "run it through a professional PR firm." If that is the sword, then I'll definitely fall on it. And I again remind you I'm unemployed--Bright is unfortunately dead. I won't continue to bore any remaining readers here with a tit-for-tat, as what I thought started as an honest dialogue with legitimate questions turned into an apparent rant from someone who has strong opinions but no real insight to ATVM or how it has worked. People may agree or disagree about the role of government in markets (I have a pretty clear view after experiencing it first hand), whether Bright had merits or not (I advise you to read more about the Company as your portrayal of it is very misinformed--again who do you think we are competing with? We're making a fleet truck, not competing against any of the cars you've listed in your multiple rants ), etc. but I can guarantee you are the only one I've heard who actually feels the ATVM was a success under any metric, big picture or small. ATVM was about fuel efficiency produced in America (and among your numerous misstatements I didnt know that Toyota for instance as you mention got a loan or made Priuses in the US) -- not just electrification -- and very few watchers of this industry would say our domestic efficient manufacturing base is in good long term shape. As a citizen watching this country pay $1 billion a day for imported oil, and seeing my potential customers having to pay $5 gas this summer with few alternatives, I can say ATVM did very little to solve some real problems we face as a country--and as I've stated, did a lot of unintentional harm. To your point that we had no alternatives given the crash of '08 for funding, I have a simple question: then how did we stay in business through 2012 without any DOE money? it's a small example of how on a close read none of your points really have merit when you think about them. I'll let any of the other 60 employees weigh in on your statements that we "deserved" the treatment we got (e.g. Being told multiple times over the last 2 years our loan was "weeks away"', keeping us in the program) and should be thankful for the DOEs action. I'm sure they have much stronger opinions than I do. This is my last comment, I hope people if they care take time to learn about Bright -- the anti Solyndra -- and see that when the government decides to interfere in markets, making an error in picking the wrong loser is as damaging as picking the wrong winner.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 2 Years Ago
        Michael, don't waste effort on PR
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Brylawski said: "Bright -- the anti Solyndra". That is true. But only because the gov't clearly made the right decision and didn't give you any funding so that you could become the next company to go bankrupt owing the gov't funds. Oh, and for the record, I support Solyndra. They were actually a victim of something outside of their own control - illegal dumping of solar panels at manipulated below market prices by the Chinese. But I'm starting to get a feeling with your anti-Solyndra, anti-ATVM comments, that you would be just another anti-Obama, anti-gov't hack like EVnerdGene.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        As to your points, I'll "bother" covering them, even though you don't think it's worth the bother. You are still stuck on thinking the ATVM program has some special place for a van. It doesn't. You are competing against ALL other forms of EV's. Your company doesn't have a special notch reserved just for your van in this ATVM program. Frankly, if you can't understand this concept, then it is VERY clear why Bright failed. If you weren't running the company as if it were in DIRECT head-to-head competition with every other ATVM applicant, AND every company building EV's both inside and outside the US, it is clear why you lost that competition. I'm sorry even after your company failed in the race against these other companies to get EV's and other green cars into production, the you STILL don't understand the race you were in, and exactly who you were competing against for ATVM funds, and to win the race to get EV's to the market.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Michael said: "I'll let any of the other 60 employees weigh in on your statements that we "deserved" the treatment we got (e.g. Being told multiple times over the last 2 years our loan was "weeks away"', keeping us in the program) and should be thankful for the DOEs action. I'm sure they have much stronger opinions than I do." If you want to send 60 shills here to defend your ego (er.. I mean Bright's Legacy) go ahead. Maybe some of them will address honestly your self-admitted failure to treat your company as being in competition with all other ATVM recipients and all other EV manufacturers. Maybe some of your 60 shills for your company will want to have an honest discussion about exactly why Bright lost the race you weren't even bothering to run, instead of having and agenda of hitting all the anti-gov't talking points of Solyndra, picking winners and losers, etc.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Brylawski said "I can guarantee you are the only one I've heard who actually feels the ATVM was a success under any metric, big picture or small." Well, when you hear the horn of a Tesla Model S honking for you to get out of the way as you cross the street, I guess you won't have to jump out of the way, because you don't believe the ATVM is working to put cars on the street. You might be open for a very rude awaking from your dream that the ATVM is a failure. Saying that I'm the only one you've heard saying the ATVM has has its successes just exposes yourself for living in your own insular world. Again, no wonder your company failed if you've had your head in an insular world that doesn't talk to anyone who understands the benefits of the ATVM program. Even worse, you would rather bash someone who tells you about it, calling their statements "rantings" than to actually LEARN about ATVM's success stories. But at the first sign of opinions that don't match your own, you've run away. So it isn't surprising that you've never heard anyone else say the ATVM program has had it's successes.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Brylawski said: "To your point that we had no alternatives given the crash of '08 for funding, I have a simple question: then how did we stay in business through 2012 without any DOE money?" I've actually already commented on this, but you are leaving without responding to those posts. But I'll repeat myself just for you. You stayed in limbo (not really in business building stuff and selling stuff) through the 2008 credit crash BECAUSE the ATVM attracted limited VC funds. It was the existence of the ATVM program that kept your company from going dormant through the last 4 years, like EV startups like Phoenix Motors and Trabant EV, and a whole string of other EV startups. If there is one thing that attracts VC, it is existing capital in a company, or the promise of other capital from other sources. VC investors HATE to be the only source of capital for a company. So aside from Tesla (where Musk was able to attract additional capital by putting down huge amounts of his own money, with the explicit statement that he would personally fund the entire company if needed) all of you EV startups would be in deep freeze ever since fall of 2008. And none of you EV startups would have much chance at all to catch up with the Major Manufacturers at this point, since they are now flush with profits from the rest of their lines of cars, while you all would be paying premium high costs for VC funding and bank loans that would drive up your car prices. You can dismiss me because you don't want to bother with having to think through a different opinion than your own. But you can't make up your own facts. Without the the capital from ATVM loans at cheap costs to attract OTHER capital from VC, you would still be in deep freeze without even the little VC capital you have now that wasn't even enough to pay people's paychecks.
          PR
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          LTW There we go, I stand corrected. EVERY SINGLE startup EV company would still be in deep-freeze without the ATVM program, even Tesla with Musk's super-deep pockets. Thanks for helping prove my point that Bright would have been going nowhere since 2008 had there been no ATVM program.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          "So aside from Tesla (where Musk was able to attract additional capital by putting down huge amounts of his own money, with the explicit statement that he would personally fund the entire company if needed) all of you EV startups would be in deep freeze ever since fall of 2008." Tesla wouldn't have made it if it weren't for the DoE loans. "The $100 million would have gone toward producing the Model S, the battery-powered sedan that Tesla had promised in 2010. Instead, the company delayed the car’s debut to mid-2011 and is waiting on a low-interest Department of Energy loan due in six to eight months. That will cover about three-quarters of the cost of the Model S. Tesla will try to raise another $50 million or so after the loan comes through. By then, Mr. Musk said, he hopes that the markets will have stabilized and potential investors will see Tesla as a less risky investment because of the government loan. He also hopes to get some of the federal government’s $25 billion bailout package for the auto industry, 10 percent of which is reserved for small car companies."
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        Sad you won't even bother to answer my direct questions about VC funding before leaving. Oh well. If you don't like my questions, and you can't bother to respond directly to my comments, I guess you have finally figured out why Mulally and Musk knows that it is completely unprofessional to go slumming in the comments section of some blog site on the internet -- even after you've lost your job.
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