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USA: Start-up Bright Automotive will close its doors


An Indiana electric vehicle company that had planned to build energy-efficient fleet trucks announced Tuesday it will close down this week, and it blamed the Obama administration for stringing the company along for three years with promises of a federal loan.

Bright Automotive executives complained in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu Tuesday that the agency has since 2010 vowed repeatedly that the company’s application was “close” and “within weeks” of winning a $450 million federal loan to launch its manufacturing plant for hybrid plug-in fleet trucks.

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Bright’s business plan was endorsed by major corporations with large gas-guzzling fleets, such as Comcast, FritoLay and ServiceMaster, and had advance customer orders from Duke Energy and Snap-on Tools.

“The actions – or better said “lack of action” — by your team means hundreds of great manufacturing and technical jobs, union and non-union alike, and thousands of indirect jobs in Indiana and Michigan will not see the light of day,” Bright CEO Reuben Munger wrote to Chu.

The company, which has 60 employees, said it would be unable to make payroll on Friday.

The Department of Energy has said in the past it must study applications and make strict requirements of all applicants to be a careful steward of public dollars.

“We understand that this is a difficult day for Bright Automotive and their workers,” said DOE spokesman Damien LaVera. “Over the last three years, the Department has worked with the company to try to negotiate a deal that supported their business while protecting the taxpayers. In the end, we were not able to come to an agreement on terms that would protect the taxpayers.
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