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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.

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Bright Automotive Chief Operating Officer Mike Donoughe invoked President Barack Obama's recent call for U.S. companies to create American jobs while developing alternative energy sources for transportation by requesting that Congress speed up the company's federal loan process.

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The Rocky Mountain Institute has worked on transportation projects before – see the Hypercar and its evolved kin, the Bright IDEA van, or Project Get Ready – so two the new videos from RMI aren't a surprise. What they are, though, is a refinement of the Institute's longstanding solutions for more efficient vehicles: reduce weight, push governments to support what RMI calls "Revolutionary+ vehicles," encourage next-gen biofuels (i.e., non-corn-based ethanol), encouraging people to use

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Bright IDEA PHEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Bright Idea PHEV van – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Bright Idea PHEV – Click above for high-res image gallery

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The one contract from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to start bringing electric trucks to the large national fleet of Long Life Vehicles (LLVs) that we knew about went to Zap. That contract was for a single truck, and it looks like Bright Automotive has been awarded a similar deal.

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Bright IDEA PHEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Bright IDEA PHEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

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The IDEA plug-in hybrid van from Bright Automotive was unveiled earlier this year in Washington, D.C. and it's already time for the first test drives to start. Plug in vehicle advocate Paul Scott was recently given the opportunity to visit Bright's Indiana headquarters and see what moving the duck-like van is all about. His first impression: the van gets a B+ for building a PHEV van that works but still needs some upgrades to make the shift from pure electric drive to when the ICE kicks in more

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Bright IDEA EV van - click above for high-res image gallery

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Bright IDEA EV van - click above for a high-res gallery

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Indiana's Bright Automotive is slowly but surely taking the Rocky Mountain Institute's lightweight hyper-efficient vehicle idea (read more here) and making it a reality. One thing that will stay the same, though, is the, ahem, idea. IDEA will be the name of the plug-in hybrid concept vehicle when it is unveiled in Washington, D.C. later this month. Clever, that means the car will be officially called the Bright IDEA.

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