Bright Automotive to Shut Down
The Indiana-based electric vehicle start-up Bright Automotive announced on Tuesday that they would be winding down operations after failing to secure a federal loan to finance its operation and production costs to build a plug-in hybrid delivery vehicle.
“Bright has not been explicitly rejected by the DOE; rather we have been forced to say ‘uncle.’ As a result, we are winding down our operations,” Bright CEO Reuban Munger and Chief Operating Officer Mike Donoughe said in a scathing letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Bright Automotive leaders complained in the letter and in interviews that the Department of Energy’s $25 billion green car loan program was a “debacle” and its actions contradicted the president’s pledge to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
Bright Automotive was seeking a $450 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to finance production of the IDEA plug-in hybrid van.
The IDEA plug-in hybrid was to run in electric mode for 40 miles before switching to an estimated 36-mpg hybrid mode for 100+ mpg potential based on daily driving behavior.
GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Motors, had invested $5 million in Bright.
The start-up will be shutting down operations at their headquarters in Anderson, Indiana and their research facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where it was developing the Idea.
This month, Chrysler Group LLC abandoned its application for up to $3.5 billion in loans after the Energy Department proposed very restrictive terms and reduced the amount of the proposed loan to under $2 billion.
General Motors withdrew its application for $14.4 billion in loans in January 2011.
The DOE gave conditional loan commitments to Ford ($5.9 billion), Nissan ($1.6 billion) and Tesla Motors ($465 million) as part of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program.
The Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act passed in December 2007) authorized $25 billion in direct DOE loans to companies toward retooling U.S. factories to make vehicles and components that improve fuel economy.
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