At an event in Washington on April 21, Bright Automotive unveiled the world's first purpose-built 100 mpg vehicle aimed at commercial and government fleets. Named the IDEA, the multi-use vehicle falls into the light truck classification. The company announced it plans to produce 50,000 vehicles annually by 2013, providing businesses and government agencies with a highly durable, cost-saving and eco-friendly new vehicle, and creating thousands of American jobs. Bright Automotive showed a fully operating concept version of the vehicle to a crowd that included Members of Congress, White House Officials, media, and customer and supplier representatives. 

The Bright IDEA 

Indiana-based Bright Automotive said the IDEA will be 5 to 10 times more efficient than current commercial fleets. The vehicle will save a typical customer more than 1,500 gallons of gasoline and thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually. For the 100 largest fleets in the U.S., each having on average over 1,000 vehicles like the IDEA in their fleet, the savings would average over $3 million a year. 

At the same time, each IDEA will reduce emissions and C02 output by up to 16 tons each year over competing vehicles. Key reasons for such high efficiency are vehicle weight and aerodynamics: the curb weight target for the IDEA is 3200 pounds-1500 pounds less than the average competitor with a 0.30 Coefficient of drag (Cd). 

To achieve groundbreaking fuel efficiency, Bright Automotive is building the IDEA from the ground-up and maximizing platform efficiency by incorporating lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and low-rolling resistance tires. On a full charge, the IDEA uses battery power for the first 30 miles, using little or no gasoline and less than $1 of electricity. After this, it functions like other hybrids. As an example of fuel efficiency, for commercial customers with a 50-mile daily urban route, the IDEA uses about 1/2 gallon of gas, which is equivalent to getting 100 mpg. For a 70 mile daily driver, 1 gallon of gas is used, similar to 70 mpg. 

The IDEA is also a more useful and modern vehicle with features that include a 180 cu ft., 1 ton cargo capacity, ergonomic design, innovative cargo compartment, and a patent-pending passenger seat that converts to a mobile office. From the very beginning of the design process, Bright Automotive consulted with over 50 fleet managers from leading American companies, deeply involving them in the design process. The IDEA is, in fact, the first high-volume PHEV to be designed exclusively for commercial and government fleet use. 

High volume production of the IDEA will begin in the U.S. by the end of 2012 -- with an annual run rate of 50,000 units beginning in 2013. To produce its vehicle, the company plans to create over 5,000 jobs-directly and through suppliers-by 2013.