WARREN, MI - Bright Automotive said it has delivered a prototype electrified vehicle, based on the Bright IDEA's plug-in hybrid architecture, to the U.S. Army for review and testing.  

Moreover, the Department of Defense has awarded a new contract to Bright Automotive to refine the hybrid and vehicle systems. 

Bright Automotive is working with the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research Development & Engineering Center's (TARDEC) National Automotive Center (NAC) to develop a vehicle for non-tactical, transport applications. The vehicle is a commercial utility vehicle retrofitted with plug-in hybrid powertrain based on the Bright IDEA.  

Vehicle features include a custom battery pack, 50-plus mpg efficiency, and integrated vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities that could improve base transportation efficiency and, in the event of an emergency, provide temporary power to the base electrical grid. 

The vehicle delivery took place at the U.S. Army's Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich., where TARDEC officials drove the vehicle and tested its vehicle-to-grid power export capabilities. The delivery is tied to an October 2009 contract from the Department of Defense to develop an electrified retrofit of a commercial utility vehicle for non-tactical, inter-base troop transport applications. 

Under the new contract, Bright Automotive will work with the U.S. Army to bring the prototype plug-in hybrid vehicle to near-production readiness.  

The delivery and the new contract mark another significant step forward for Bright Automotive, the company said. On Aug. 3, Bright and General Motors announced that they had agreed to pursue a strategic relationship and that GM has provided funding to the Indiana automaker. The relationship will accelerate the production of the Bright IDEA, a plug-in hybrid commercial vehicle designed for government and business fleets. 

"This vehicle demonstrates that the Bright IDEA architecture can serve as the core of a custom, highly efficient solution for a demanding customer such as the U.S. Army," said Nigel Francis, Bright Automotive executive vice president. "As with everything we do, Bright listened to the customer to develop a vehicle that exceeds their specific efficiency and utility demands. The U.S. Army fleet consists of over 80,000 non-tactical vehicles that rely on hydrocarbon-based fuel sources, so plug-in vehicles are a huge opportunity to cut fuel costs."

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According to the company, Bright's system engineering approach includes these highlights: 

  • Bright Automotive developed a custom 10 kWh battery pack and battery management system (BMS) for the U.S. Army vehicle. It achieves the range and performance the U.S. Army needs with optimal battery weight.
  • The Bright Automotive vehicle uses a parallel road-coupled architecture based on the powertrain in the Bright IDEA. An electric motor powers the rear wheels, while a combustion engine powers the front axle. This provides efficiency and all-wheel-drive capability.
  • The vehicle achieves exceptional fuel economy based on the Army's average daily usage requirements. The vehicle can operate in all-electric mode for the first 20 to 30 miles, before switching to a blended hybrid mode.
  • The Bright vehicle can export power to the base micro-grid to provide temporary power to the base in the event of an emergency. Stringing together a number of these vehicles would enable the Army to temporarily operate a base independent of the electrical grid in the event of a grid failure.
  • The vehicle is able to export up to 3.3 kW of power continuously and has both 110v and 220v charging capabilities.  

Specific areas for vehicle refinement include:

  • Refining ability of vehicle to export power to grid
  • Testing and improving the vehicle's snow/rain performance
  • Developing a robust active stability system
  • Validating vehicle performance at extreme temperatures
  • Conducting emissions testing and optimization
  • Optimizing regenerative braking.

In addition to developing plug-in hybrid vehicles for the Department of Defense, Bright Automotive is producing the IDEA. It's a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle designed for commercial and government fleets. 

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine

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