Today, Bright Automotive and General Motors (GM) announced that the companies had entered into a strategic partnership and that General Motors Ventures has provided funding to Bright Automotive. This is the first investment made by GM Ventures, which was launched in June 2010 by GM with $100 million.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in July. GM Ventures provided funding to Bright Automotive this week, and the companies intend to complete the formal agreements later this year. Upon completion of the agreements and other terms, GM Ventures would have a minority stake in Bright Automotive and Bright Automotive would receive access to GM technologies, and advanced engine and transmission systems. Finacial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
"Funding early-stage start-up companies is a new way of doing business at GM to accelerate the introduction of innovative technology to support our core automotive business and give us a competitive advantage," said Jon Lauckner, President of GM Ventures. "In this case, our funding of Bright Automotive will accelerate the introduction of advanced propulsion and light-weight technologies in the commercial vehicle market."
Bright Automotive was launched in January 2008 from the Rocky Mountain Institute. The compny said that it will use the new funding to accelerate production of the IDEA, its plug-in hybrid vehicle for the commercial fleet market. The company is also continuing to seek a low interest loan through the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Bright Automotive states that the IDEA will be able to run in electric mode for 40 miles before switching to an estimated 36-miles per gallon (mpg) hybrid mode for an overall potential 100+ mpg.
"This relationship is an important step forward for Bright, and a strong endorsement of our highly experienced automotive team and our incredible vehicle," said Reuben Munger, Bright Automotive Chairman and CEO. "With this deal, Bright gets financial support that puts us on the fast-track toward mass production of the IDEA. And perhaps just as importantly, we gain a strategic partner that is a world leader in electrification."
“We talked with several leading automakers, but GM clearly had the right vision, the most capable technology, and the closest alignment with our business approach,” said Michael Brylawski, Bright Automotive Executive Vice President. “We are thrilled to work with GM to create American jobs, stimulate technology development, and build an innovative American vehicle that will help reduce oil dependence and cut costs for businesses.”
Some background on Bright Automotive is available in the following video.