When GM Ventures announced it would invest an unspecified amount of money into startup hybrid truck-maker Bright Automotive, several of us noted that the prototype Bright Idea delivery van used an 2.0-liter engine and transmission from a Dodge Caliber.
The announcement two weeks ago from General Motors' venture investing arm immediately prompted the question: Would Bright switch over to using GM powertrains as it developed the prototype into a production model?
Bright Automotive's Michael Brylawski on Fox Car Report Live, August 12, 2010
Host Gary Gastelu and Bright Automotive's Michael Brylawski on Fox Car Report Live, Aug 12, 2010
Not surprisingly, the answer is yes. Bright Automotive executive vice-president of corporate strategy Michael Brylawski confirmed last week on Fox Car Report Live that, in fact, Bright has "committed to use GM engines and transmissions" in its vehicles, "and GM parts."
The lightweight Bright Idea van is propelled by an electric motor driving the rear wheels, which allows a low load floor in the van body. A 13-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack gives it about 38 miles of electric range.
After that, says Bright, the front-mounted engine and transmission drive the front wheels assisted by an electric motor--like a conventional hybrid--giving 35 miles per gallon with the engine on.
Bright hopes to bring its van to market in three or four years, and Brylawski said it's far too early to speculate on price. He did note that the company's goal is monthly operating costs 20 to 30 percent lower than its competitors when fuel and other costs are included.
Bright IDEA plug-in hybrid delivery van, prototype
Bright is also "feeling pretty good" about the prospects for the low-interest retooling loan it has applied for under the U.S. Department of Energy's advanced vehicle technology program.
He noted the DoE hasn't committed any new loans since October, but still has $15 billion remaining of its initial $25 billion funding.
Brylawski said he expects the DoE to commit more funds "over the next few months."