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Emerald Automotive: What Does its Plug-In Hybrid Delivery Van Have That Bright’s Didn’t?

t’s a really good looking plug-in hybrid delivery van, targeted at fleet customers such as Coca-Cola, FedEx, UPS, AT&T and Frito-Lay. It’s being built in the Midwest, but with a lot of international support. If you think I’m talking about the ill-fated and Indiana-based Bright Automotive, which went belly-up after failing to win a federal Department of Energy loan, you get a gold star, but you’re wrong.
From Lotus to St. Louis

The company is Emerald Automotive, and it’s staffed by no less than five ex-Lotus Engineering employees. Yes, it’s a group of Brits relocated to America, originally with the idea of grabbing a loan from that $25 billon Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) fund. Emerald withdrew that request after the process threatened to drag out into 2013, but it can always re-apply. In fact, in the wake of the election the Solyndra fear factor is probably lifted and some of that government money is likely to begin flowing again soon.

So why will Emerald succeed where Bright (which had initial backing from Alcoa, Google, Johnson Controls and others) failed? “They relied on getting the DOE loan for far too long, and their break-evens were too high,” said Emerald CEO Andy Tempest. “It’s not realistic to expect to sell 50,000 vehicles in a brand-new market.”


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