The Columns

Alum's Bright IDEA Moving Forward

— by on January 14th, 2010

A story in reports that Bright Automotive, the Indiana-based company of which Washington and Lee alumnus Reuben Munger ’95 is chairman, is set to sign an agreement with a major automaker for the company’s plug-in hybrid vehicles. Bright Automotive made a big splash last April when it unveiled the prototype of its plug-in electric hybrid delivery van, the Idea — i.e., the Bright IDEA — on Capitol Hill. Reuben has been managing director of The Baupost Group, L.L.C., a $16 billion investment firm, and also founded Vision Ridge Partners in 2008. Reuben is also a member of what is called the Electrification Coalition, a group of business leaders led by the CEO of Nissan Motors that issues a report last fall, setting a national goal of having electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for 75 percent of all light-duty vehicle miles traveled in the United States by 2040. This week’s Automotive News article said that an agreement with a major automaker is likely to come in the next six months. In addition, Bright waiting for a U.S. Energy Department decision on its application for a $280 million loan to build a manufacturing facility and develop its vehicles. Bright hopes to produce its first electric vehicles in 2013 and believes it will be able to sell about 50,000 in a year. In reporting on the IDEA last year, Forbes magazine noted that Bright’s strategy to get more plug-in hybrids on the road was to concentrate not on consumers but fleet operators who can save with their delivery vehicles.