Debut Nearing for Bright Automotive's Plug-in Hybrid

Bright Automotive, ever heard of them? If not, you will.

They were born in early 2008, out of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a consulting firm. Bright Automotive will debut a plug-in hybrid at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Norway in May which they promise will meet all our needs—energy efficiency, affordability, desirability.

More vaporware, just another hyped-up PHEV looking for cash? Not likely. Bright Automotive is already extraordinarily well-funded: Google.org, Alcoa, Johnson Controls, Duke Investments (the venture capital arm of Duke Energy), and the Turner Foundation all have a stake.

It has a lot to do with the CEO, John E. Waters. As an engineer at GM, Waters developed the battery pack for the ill-fated EV1 and the Electric S-10. Later he developed battery systems for the Segway and the iBOT. He has a track record that threads through the Delphi Corporation, Dell Computers, Wal-Mart, PG&E, Texas Instruments and more.

With a month to go before the Norway Symposium, Bright Automotive has released precious few details about their vehicle, notably to the Cleantech Group. It will have an electric range of 30 miles and a full range of 400 miles. They will build it in the US, and are targeting the fourth quarter of 2012 for when they'll bring the vehicle to market in the US. Perhaps most importantly, it will not be a two-seat microcar or NEV.

In 2007, Waters trashed the Chevy Volt. His criticisms didn't quite hit the mark with Volt fans; it should be interesting to see if his vehicle response does.

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