In the race to develop and produce more efficient electric vehicles, Bright Automotive has launched a brand-new, 100-mpg plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) fleet vehicle –The IDEA. This is one of the first PHEVs designed “for the people by the people,” to compete in the light-duty truck market. The vehicle offers 180 cubic feet of interior space and a 1-ton payload capacity. Perfect, claims Bright, for commercial fleet use.
Beginning in 2012, the company plans to be produce 50,000 vehicles per year that will provide companies and government agencies, such as the post office, with a cost-saving, eco-friendly American made fleet vehicle. But maybe more interesting than its features and fuel-economy, is that Bright Automotive developed the IDEA in less than one year. It has taken some companies, such as GM, years to develop PHEVs such as the Chevy Volta, which has yet to begin full-scale production, and on average current hybrid vehicles have yet to achieve more than 60 mpg. It looks like the smaller auto companies, such as Tesla Motors and Bright Automotive are poised to own the PHEV market.
The company, based in Andersen, Indiana was formed in January 2008 as an offshoot of the Rocky Mountain Institute and haspartners that include Alcoa, Google.org, Johnson Controls and the Turner Foundation. Consumers got their first preview of The IDEA on April 8th and Washington lawmakers were able to drive around town on April 21st. The worldwide unveiling of the IDEA will be in May at the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS24) in Norway.
So how does it work? It is unique in that on a full charge, the IDEA uses battery power for the first 30 miles, using little to no gasoline. Once the driver exceeds 30 miles, the car functions like other hybrids. When you factor in battery vs gas usage plus miles driven, say 50 miles, the car gets the equivalent of 100 mpg.
The IDEA should prove to both American consumers and Washington DC policy makers that PHEVs are a reality and will hopefully encourage American automakers to step up their research development and production of electric vehicles.