Bright IDEA EV van – Click above for high-res image gallery

Bright Automotive named a new CEO today, but the company is stressing that there is no behind-the-scenes upheaval. The new CEO was, until today, the chairman of the board, Reuben Munger. The old CEO, John Waters, will remain on the company board. The reason for the shift is that Munger is more of a deal-maker while Waters will be shifting his focus back to the actual vehicle engineering. Munger told AutoblogGreen that he's been serving as an "active executive chariman" since being named chairman three months after the company went into existence. "John and I have been working together to realize a shared vision around Bright Automotive," he said. "It's a mild evolution, not a seismic shift." One example of Munger's ability to get out there is his membership in the Electrification Coalition.

So, what's next for the Indiana-based company? Munger said Bright will be moving into the "execution phase" within the next six months. Specifically, this means the announcement of a new partnership and the expectation that a DOE loan and additional private capitol will come. Bright said in January that it was in discussions with a few OEMs and a handful of non-OEMs. At this point, Bright is narrowing down who they will be working with and expect to make that announcement maybe still in the first half of 2010, but it may slip into the third quarter.

As for the actual Bright Idea vans, there are three of them in existence (or getting close to existing). There is a powertrain mule, a combined powertrain mule and concept prototype (this is the one we drove) and one additional production mule that is nearing completion. We couldn't get any information about what changes are being made, but Munger said the software and drivetrain is constantly evolving. Just like the company.

[Source: Bright Automotive]

PRESS RELEASE

Bright Automotive Chairman Reuben Munger Named CEO, as Company Explores Strategic Partnerships

Founding CEO John Waters Maintains Leadership Role as Vice Chairman

ANDERSON, IN (April 14, 2010) – Bright Automotive today announced that company Chairman Reuben Munger has been named Chief Executive Officer as the company explores strategic partnerships. John E. Waters, who served as CEO and President since founding the company in 2008, continues in a leadership role, serving as Vice Chairman. Under Waters' leadership, Indiana-based Bright Automotive has developed the IDEA – a revolutionary plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for government and commercial fleets.

"As has been publicly discussed, Bright Automotive is pursuing strategic partnerships that will allow it to move into production," Munger said. "Our conversations with potential partners have confirmed that our business strategy is correct and our vehicle is truly revolutionary. Our goal now is to find the right third-party alliance that will allow us to quickly bring the Bright IDEA vehicle to market and meet the significant customer demand."

Munger commented, "We believe it strategic to adjust the leadership team during this period to place a greater focus on identifying, closing and integrating the appropriate partnership. John Waters will continue to offer the vision and technical know-how that has allowed the company to do amazing things in just two years. As CEO, my focus will be on taking the financing steps needed to move forward with building and selling our vehicles."

Waters added, "Reuben's deep background in investment and finance makes him the obvious choice to lead the company at this time. He has been intimately involved in company decision making since the beginning, so this will be a seamless transition. I look forward to continuing to work to achieve our company vision of creating innovative solutions that reduce oil use and emissions. As Vice Chairman, I will focus on vehicle strategy and will bring leadership to our advanced propulsion efforts."

Reuben Munger has been Chairman of Bright Automotive since its founding. He is a seasoned investment professional, and Founder and Managing Partner of Vision Ridge Partners. Munger previously served as Managing Director at The Baupost Group, L.L.C., a $20 billion investment firm. During his decade long tenure at Baupost, the firm grew from under $1 billion in assets under management to over $12 billion. Earlier in his career, he was a consultant to Texas Pacific Group and an investment banker with James D. Wolfensohn, Inc. He serves as a director of a number of non-profit organizations including Stand for Children, EdVestors and the Rocky Mountain Institute and is a founding member of the Electrification Coalition.

Bright Automotive has developed the first purpose-built light plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for commercial and government fleets. The IDEA delivers a positive total cost of ownership to fleet customers by providing 5 to 10 times greater fuel efficiency than current fleet vehicles in its class. The IDEA operates in electric mode for 40 miles before switching to an estimated 36-mpg hybrid mode for 100+ mpg potential based on daily driving behavior. The IDEA provides long life aluminum construction, improved functionality and ergonomics, larger payload and dramatic fuel efficiency improvement over comparable vehicles. Bright Automotive provides details on the IDEA at www.brightautomotive.com
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