Cyclone Power Improves Performance And Durability of Waste Heat Engine
Eden Energy and BAF Develop Hythane Calibration for Ford 6.8L V10

Bright Automotive To Convert VW Transporters to Plug-ins

A VW Transporter van. Click to enlarge.

Start-up Bright Automotive, which in May unveiled its IDEA concept series plug-in hybrid light commercial van (earlier post), will convert VW Transporter vans with the series hybrid Bright powertrain as a bridge between the concept and the production version of the IDEA.

Conversions are expensive, noted Lyle Shuey, Bright VP of Marketing and Sales, and the converted Transporters will not be as efficient as the purpose-built IDEA. But “Bright-ifying” the Transporter provides fleet owners with a more immediate solution that delivers benefits compared to the conventional Transporter, and allows them to begin the learning and preparation to plug-in.

The IDEA concept. Click to enlarge.

Bright plans to begin delivering Transporter PHEVs in the second quarter of 2010.

The converted Transporter, which will come in cargo, cab-chassis and passenger versions, will have a 22-mile all-electric range (AER), with fuel economy of 57 mpg based on a 50-mile daily cycle. By way of comparison, the IDEA is designed to have a 30-mile AER with fuel economy of 100 mpg.

The Bright IDEA and Transporter PHEV
Specification IDEA Transporter PHEVConventional
Fuel economy, 50-mile cycle 100 mpg (2.4 L/100km) 57 mpg (4.1L/100km) 15-22 mpg (15.6-10.7 L/100km)
EV range (miles) 30 22na
Drivetrain AWD AWD capable FWD or RWD
Payload (lbs / kg) 2000 / 907 2000 / 907 1750-3300 / 793-1497
Curb weight (lbs /kg) 3200 / 1452 4690 / 2130 3200-5200 / 1451-2361
Cargo volume (ft3 / m3) 180 / 5.1 203 / 5.8 143-236 / 4.0-6.7
Aerodynamics (Cd) Target 0.30 0.33 0.32-0.37

The goal, said Shuey, is to prove the Bright platform, and get it into play. Bright, which also offers Engineering services including complete battery pack system design, assembles its own packs. (CEO John Waters developed the battery pack for GM’s EV-1 and Evan House, VP Advanced Battery Engineering, was the former Director of Battery Development at Seeo.)


Henry Gibson

It is actually one of the better ideas to convert an existing vehicle. Make sure it is one with large quantities and is available used from areas where there is less rust damage.

The ZEBRA battery is ok for the sevice that is proposed, and TH!NK is not selling any of them right now, so there is a market. General Electric will be making and using them in Locomotives, mining trucks and other services so they will be another source of them. As a mature technology their price can drop quickly in mass production.

Please! please! please! put in a gasoline powered battery charger. Even 1kw is enough. Strip down a Honda 1000is, look at the generator part and get Honda to make only it for you, but it must have an electric start which is not hard to arrange with modern power transistors and a 300 volt battery.

Even a large model airplane engine from RCV could be adequate for the purpose.... ..HG..



Would your idea perform better in a much lighter minivan such as the Mazda5?

With about 700 lbs less, the battery pack & on-board genset could be smaller and lighter. Total weight could be almost 1000 lbs less than with the VW Transporter.

Performance (with the Mazda5) could be almost as good as with the yet to be built IDEA vehicle. The Mazda5 is mass produced and available at a decent price.


An Opel Ecoflex Commercial (3803 lbs) could be another alternative. Since it already does 46.1 mpg, a rather mild hybrid version could easily do 50+ mpg

The comments to this entry are closed.