100 MPG PHEV? Great IDEA!

Indiana-based company, Bright Automotive, recently made the long trek to Iceland to participate in the largest vehicle bright-automotive-idea-vehicle-photo.jpgsymposium and exhibition in the world, EVS-24.

Originally introduced to Washington on April 21, EVS-24 marked the official unveiling of the “Idea”. The Idea, a 100-mpg hybrid-electric vehicle, may quiet possibly revolutionize the entire US automotive industry. EVS-24 provided Bright with the exposure they needed to reach out to customers in Europe, South Africa, and Canada. According to Lyle Shuey, vice president of marketing, they will also be offering their electric conversion engineering services (turning gasoline-powered vehicles into electric) to their new customers. (Since you can’t buy a gallon of electricity, we might all have to change our fuel efficient measurement from MPG to CPM, or Cost Per Mile.)

A US-based company, Bright intends to take advantage of Iceland’s prime location as a midway point between the US and Europe. In addition, Iceland already has a fully functioning energy grid, which utilizes thermal energy and hydroelectric power.

As President Obama announced in his recent energy plan, he would like to see one-million plug-in hybrids on US highways by 2015. Bright plans to produce 50,000 vehicles annually by 2013, which is why they have applied for $450 million in government loans through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. CEO, John Waters told the Herald Bulletin, “These grants will help ensure we are able to reach our goal or producing 50,000 vehicles annually while creating over 5,000 American jobs before 2015.” In addition, Bright has applied for $35 million in government grants offered by the Department of Energy, as well as another $35 million to design a state-of-the-art battery pack and deploy their hybrid-electric vehicle.

Duke Energy, also located in Indiana, currently serves over 800,000 customers and an investor in Bright Automotive, says they are trying to expand their grid to adapt to electric vehicles. “We’re located in Indiana for a reason,” Shuey told the Herald Bulletin. Being located in the Midwest gives Bright access to all the top-notch manufacturers they need. Although a production center has not been set in stone, Bright has entered into discussions with Indiana as well as other states.

With new advances in digital technology, Duke’s “smart grid” will allow customers to use electricity at off-peak hours and will be able to detect outages, reducing and shortening outages, while decreasing man-hours.

This pairing of Bright Automotives’ Idea and Duke Energy’s Smart Grid may just be what the US needs to get its feet back into the automotive marketplace and create more US-based jobs. Starting with an electric van or hybrid minivan is also a bonus. Congrats to this future electric car company near Indianapolis, Indiana! 

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