2 of 6
BACKNEXT
Electric shock for a staid industry
Electric shock for a staid industry
The Bright Automotive staff shows off the IDEA delivery van.

John E. Waters got his start developing battery systems for GM's ill-fated, mid-'90s electric vehicle, the EV1. For his new startup he rounded up 30 auto industry veterans, including former EV1 compatriots. Together, they have a total of 200 years' experience at Chrysler and other top-tier auto manufacturers.

So what glamorous automotive niche do they hope to enter? Electric delivery vans.

For all their blandness, delivery vehicles are the perfect place to test electric car technology. Delivery vans are usually based at a company's depot, so at the end of the day they are easily plugged in and recharged -- addressing critics' biggest complaint about all-electric automobiles. Ranges are limited, but proper scheduling and routing can resolve that problem.

What's more, by electrifying their fleets, companies could save 12 cents to 18 cents per mile (depending on the price of fuel). Assuming an average use of 80 to 100 miles a day, that's $3,600 per vehicle per year. So a company like Verizon, with something on the order of 35,000 vans, could save $125 million a year if its entire fleet went electric.

"Customers can use our technology to improve their bottom line," says Waters. His company, Bright Automotive in Anderson, Ind., and has raised more than $20 million in private capital.

In April 2009, the company announced its new IDEA delivery van to much fanfare. The vehicle gets 40 miles on a single charge and also features a standard hybrid battery that is recharged by a gasoline engine -- like a Prius. Running on gas, the IDEA fetches nearly 40 mpg.

NEXT: A boat builder hits the road

Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
LAST UPDATE: Dec 21 2009 | 2:36 PM ET
More Galleries
A sampling of beers being made with traditional Latin flavors A small but growing number of craft breweries are including passion fruit, Mexican cinnamon and other traditional Latin flavors. More
Banks won't lend? Use these guys instead Banks often have exhaustive approval processes, high minimums, and flawless credit requirements. But there's a wealth of non-bank alternatives for those who need capital fast. Here are some of the leaders. More
Facebook launched my startup These entrepreneurs relied exclusively on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to jumpstart their small businesses. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.