Bright Automotive goes dark

Indiana-based EV start-up Bright Automotive will cease operations this week after failing to secure a federal loan to finance the production costs of its Idea plug-in hybrid delivery van. The Idea, which Bright unveiled back in 2009, is a purpose-built PHEV aimed at commercial and government fleets. GM had invested $5 million in Bright.

Bright’s management is not happy about what they see as endless delays in the loan approval process. “Last week we received the fourth ‘near final’ Conditional Commitment Letter since September 2010,” Bright CEO Ruben Munger wrote in a letter to the DOE. “Each new letter arrived with more onerous terms than the last. The first three were workable for us, but the last was so outlandish that most rational and objective persons would likely conclude that your team was negotiating in bad faith.”

The DOE has provided major support for several EV ventures (Ford, Nissan, Fisker and Tesla have made out well), but by most accounts, they have been getting stingier with taxpayer dollars of late. California-based Aptera folded in December after failing to secure a DOE loan. The feds recently cut off Fisker’s allowance after it suspended work on the new Project Nina sedan. Chrysler abandoned a loan application this month, saying that the DOE’s terms were too restrictive.

Unfortunately, the road to success is an uphill one for automotive startups, and government support is not the most reliable of powertrains.

 

Image: Bright Automotive