Bright Automotive's IDEA Plug-in Hybrid delivery van

Bright Automotive goes dark citing onerous Dept of Energy loan terms

Bright Automotive, would-be manufacturer of a plug-in hybrid delivery van, shut down today while CEO Reuben Munger and COO Mike Donoughe delivered a blistering letter to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu calling the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program a debacle.

Indiana based Bright Automotive, a start-up company which hoped to sell hybrid-electric delivery trucks, has closed its doors citing outlandish terms required the Dept of Energy in the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program. This makes at least the third company in recent weeks to complain about the terms of these government backed loans.

Bright Automotive was launched in 2008 from the Rocky Mountain Institute, the clean-technology analyst firm led by Amory Lovins. The companies primary goal was development of the IDEA, a plug-in hybrid delivery van explicitly focused on commercial fleets of urban delivery vehicles. In August 2010, GM Ventures, the venture capital firm operated by GM, made one of its first investments in Bright Automotive. On the heels of that announcement, Mike Donoughe, a 25 year veteran of Chrysler, joined Bright Automotive as the Chief Operating Officer. In April 2010, the company signed a contract with the Postal Service to develop and test an electric postal delivery vehicle. The company was staffed by industry veterans including some of the most experienced hybrid-electric vehicle and battery pack engineers in the industry. In short, at one time, the company was a rising star.

The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) program was a brain-child of the Bush Administration, and became part of the Obama green jobs strategy. Not ones to go quietly into the dark, CEO Reuben Munger and COO Mike Donoughe wrote a blistering letter to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, detailing Bright's experience of the ATVM program.


Share on Facebook submit to reddit Share on Google+

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.


I take it as a sign that the DOE shouldn't have been involved in the "loan" process to begin with.