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.
The plan is for the vehicle to get 100 mpge using a battery pack that is 40 percent smaller than other packs with similar range, and EV-only range should be 30 miles. The concept car was going to be unveiled at EVS24 in Norway in May, but Bright Automotive just announced that the new release date will be April 21 on Capitol Hill. Another important date on the Bright horizon: high-volume production (50,000 units a year) in late 2012.

I have one problem with Bright's 100 mpge calculation, through. Here's how they explain the number in the press release:

On a full charge, the IDEA will operate in all-electric mode for the first 30 miles before switching to hybrid mode for a full range of 400 miles. For a typical drive of 50 miles, the vehicle consumes ½ gallon of gasoline – equivalent to 100 mpg fuel efficiency.

Well, only if you drive those 100 miles in short spurts, recharging every time you go 50 miles. I'm still totally in favor of vehicles that can go tens of miles on battery power, but I don't like this sort of shady accounting. At least this isn't as bad as AFS Trinity's 150 mpg claims. More details on the Bright IDEA after the jump.

[Source: Bright Automotive]

PRESS RELEASE:

Bright Automotive Announces Name of First Vehicle and Accelerates Date of its Public Unveiling

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Being Built from Ground-Up by Team of Auto Industry Veterans; Concept Will Be Shown on April 21

ANDERSON, IN (April 6, 2009) – Bright Automotive, Inc. announced today that its first vehicle – a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will achieve 100 mpg for an average customer – will be called the IDEA. A concept version of the IDEA will be shown to the public for the first time on April 21, 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

"We named our first vehicle the IDEA because of the role it will play in helping revolutionize American transportation and moving the country toward a more secure and sustainable energy future," said John Waters, CEO and President of Bright Automotive. "We know it is possible to achieve dramatic, breakthrough fuel efficiency and deliver tremendous customer value. This is the compelling idea that drives our company and it is fully captured in our first vehicle."

Bright Automotive (www.brightautomotive.com) has the most experienced PHEV, hybrid and electric vehicle team in the industry. Waters developed the battery pack for General Motors' first production electric vehicle, the EV1, and other company executives and engineers have spent years working for major auto manufacturers and suppliers. Bright Automotive will begin high volume production by the end of 2012 – with an annual run rate of 50,000 units. To produce its vehicle, the company plans to create over 5,000 jobs by 2013.

Bright Automotive also announced today that a concept version of the vehicle will first be shown to the media and public on Capitol Hill on April 21. Members of Congress and companies involved with Bright Automotive will take part in a briefing on the IDEA and a public event.

Waters continued, "We created the IDEA by starting with a clean sheet, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough technologies and materials. The IDEA will deliver superior fuel-efficient performance and a lower cost of ownership than competing traditionally-powered vehicles. At the same time, it will help to re-invigorate the American auto industry and create thousands of new 'green collar' jobs here in the U.S."

To achieve groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is maximizing platform efficiency, by incorporating lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires to use less combined energy. On a full charge, the IDEA will operate in all-electric mode for the first 30 miles before switching to hybrid mode for a full range of 400 miles. For a typical drive of 50 miles, the vehicle consumes ½ gallon of gasoline – equivalent to 100 mpg fuel efficiency.

Bright Automotive was launched out of the Rocky Mountain Institute, where it had the great benefit of visionary leadership from partners including Alcoa, Duke Energy, Google.org, Johnson Controls, and the Turner Foundation. Today, with the most experienced EV and PHEV team in the industry, Bright is prepared to answer the nation's call for clean energy vehicles that are developed and built here in America.

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