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GM to fund hybrid commercial van builder

by Andrew Ganz

GM Ventures will take minority ownership in an Indiana-based plug-in hybrid van builder, Bright Automotive.

General Motors announced today that its newly-formed General Motors Ventures arm will begin a strategic relationship with Anderson, Indiana-based Bright Automotive to produce a plug-in hybrid commercial van.

GM Ventures will take a minority stake in Bright and the van builder will gain access to certain GM powertrain and transmission technologies for use in its vehicles.

The IDEA van is a commercial-oriented 100 mpg plug-in hybrid electric vehicle aimed mainly at urban users. It operates in purely electric mode for 40 miles before switching over to a standard hybrid mode that achieves around 36 mpg.

Bright has applied for a loan from the United States Department of Energy, although it has not yet been approved. Neither Bright nor GM has given an estimated on-sale date for the IDEA.