After failing to secure a loan from the federal government, hybrid electric carmaker Bright Automotive Inc. is shutting down, according to press reports. The company had raised $16.1 million in venture backing, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of peHUB).
Founded in January 2008, Bright raised an $11.1 million Series A round from White Pines Partners LLC and Duke Investments LLC in January 2009, Thomson Reuters reports. The Anderson, Ind.-based company then raised $5 million from General Motors Ventures LLC, GM’s venture fund, in August 2010, Thomson Reuters says.
Bright had been trying to obtain a $450 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, which it planned to use to produce the IDEA, plug-in hybrid van for commercial fleets (pictured).
The Herald Bulletin reported that it had received a copy of a letter written by Bright CEO Reuban Munger and Chief Operating Officer Mike Donoughe to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Bright has not been explicitly rejected by the DOE; rather we have been forced to say ‘uncle.’ As a result, we are winding down our operations,” the letter stated, according to The Herald Bulletin.
The Herald Bulletin also reported that the company’s VP of corporate strategy had said Bright had spent three years and $15 million negotiating with the DOE for the loan.
The closure of Bright follows the December failure of Aptera, another VC-backed electric vehicle maker. Like Bright, Aptera was unsuccessful in obtaining a federal loan, which was contingent on it raising $80 million in private funding. Aptera had raised about $24 million in VC from Idealab, Google.org and NRG Energy Inc.
Image credit: Artist’s rendering of IDEA hybrid van, from the Bright Automotive website