Finally, a truck that gets 100 mpg!

brightidea-ed021

Okay, that 100-mpg number is partly marketing, but still it’s something to get excited about.

Bright Automotive is a mostly unknown car company based in Indiana. Their CEO is the guy who developed the battery pack for GM’s infamous EV1, the first production electric car that some say was prematurely put down.

So Bright is a company with some credibility behind them, and this week they unveiled their IDEA (Yes, it’s called the Bright IDEA. Stop laughing.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 

Here’s the scoop on the IDEA:

  • It’s powered by a hybrid electric system and drives for the first 30 miles on pure electricity. After that, an electric/gas engine takes over. For the first 50 miles of driving, the IDEA is said to use half a gallon of gas, the equivalent of 100 mpg.
  • Bright hopes the IDEA will be available in 2013 to commercial customers. It will not be offered as a consumer vehicle.
  •  Bright says they will create about 5,000 jobs when they begin producing 50,000 vehicles per year by the end of 2012.

I think marketing the IDEA for commercial uses is absolutely brilliant. Imagine all the delivery trucks in America that are getting 9 miles per gallon. Replace them with a van like the IDEA and *boom*, global warming is solved.

Okay, that might be a bit too high an expectation for the IDEA, but it’s a step in the right direction and another example of how the world’s auto industry will evolve in the coming years.

Do you think Bright has a great IDEA, or will it turn out to be nothing more than hype?

-tgriffith

2 Comments

  1. A small, lightweight plug-in hybrid truck is certainly not a bad idea. There is absolutely nothing original or unique about this truck though– It’s simply a truck version of current technology. The 100mpg is (as you guessed) a bit of hype, since that depends on further assist from the electric drive system to achive. And we’re probably talking about an empty vehicle, too. Load it up to MGVW and I doubt you’ll meet any of the quoted performance specs. You’ll also need quite a few of these little $88,000 trucks to carry the same load as a single, larger truck like a van body or semi. The 9 MPG of the larger truck is actually more efficient per pound hauled than a bunch of little trucks, and with far less overhead cost– One driver versus multiple drivers, maintenance, purchase cost etc. The hype of the Bright Idea truck depends on very short daily routes on very smooth roads under traffic conditions that maxiumize capture of energy from regenerative braking. With a 1-ton cargo capacity, I wonder how long this lightweight design will hold up in pot-hole filled theaters like NYC, Chicago and Detroit, which eats heavy, rugged body on frame vehicles for lunch?

    The success of this kind of hype depends on the general public and politicians being ignorant about science and technology. The idea that a large, heavily laden truck is inefficient is ignorance. Do you think a huge train locomotive is inefficient? A train can move very heavy loads over long distances far more efficiently than individual trucks.

    It takes a certain amount of energy to move a load a certain distance in a specific period of time, and hybrids can’t violate the laws of physics. All that energy needs to come from somewhere. (If you think electricty is free, check your electric bill.) Hybrids and electric vehicles are actually LESS efficient than their gasoline counterparts, primarily due to their heavier weight. The only advantage of a good hybrid design is that it recaptures the energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. Plug in hybrids can do that to, but the plug in part costs money. That’s the smoke and mirrors part of hybrids– People concentrate on the gasoline efficiency part and ignore everything else in their willingness to believe that the vehicle is more efficient than the gas counterpart, which is simply not true. Indeed, hybrids generally cannot even recoup their extra cost in fuel savings over the life of the car unless gas is at $6 a gallon or more. This truck is a prime example. At $88,000, it is about three times the cost of a conventional diesel van with the same cargo capacity. How many miles will you need to drive it to recoupe the extra $58,000 in cost over a conventional truck? Quite a few, I’d say.

    And while you’re calling the EV-1 “infamous”, remember that the big reason the car failed is because of the battery technolgy of the time, which brings us back full circle to the producer of the “Bright” Idea. I happened to work on the inverter for the EV-1 when I was with GM, and the electrical design was as good as any full electric vehicle being produced today, and better than most. The battery technology of the time was the problem. Of course, John Waters can tell you all this but is he going to do so if it means selling fewer of those very expensive $88,000 trucks?

  2. YYEEAAAH! This is awesome. This is the kind of stuff that’ll kick the auto industry into the next level. Brilliant. I hope it works as advertised.

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