Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sedans, sports cars, and SUVs are fine for everyday consumer use, but what about businesses that require larger vans (i.e. the U.S. Post Office)? Bright Automotive’s new “light-use truck” eschews the sexy aesthetic of cars like the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma for a more utilitarian 180-cubic-foot space with a 2,000 pound payload.
The IDEA uses only battery power for the first 30 miles of driving before switching over to a gas-supplemented electric system. Bright Automotive’s truck gets 100 mpg for the first 50 miles–that’s enough to get most urban delivery vehicles through the day. The car’s high mpg-rating can be attributed as much to its design as its battery power. The IDEA uses high-tech lightweight aluminum, low-resistance rolling tires, and advanced composites to keep its weight down.
These are specs that could save a high-volume fleet millions of dollars. The U.S. Post Office, for example, operates 162,000 delivery trucks that get 10 mpg. Switch these trucks for 100 mpgIDEA models, and the P.O. could save 80 million gallons of gas annually.
If the government gives Bright the federal loan money it expects, high volume production of the IDEA will begin in 2012, with an annual run rate of 50,000 cars expected by 2013. The IDEA will initially only be marketed to commercial and government fleets, but Bright CEO John Waters has said that it will be pitched to consumers at a later date. For now, the company has a number of potential commercial customers lined up, including Frito Lay, Cox Communications, and Alcoa.
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