Electric car maker Bright Automotive to shut down

According to local reports, Bright Automotive, which was a spinoff from the not-for-profit think tank Rocky Mountain Institute, and which had been developing a plug-in hybrid car called the IDEA for commercial fleets, plans to close shop.

Today in Green IT: Lessons for startups and MBA students

Corporate venture capital plays a key role in the startup world, including the cleantech sector. In his Today in Green IT post, the curator of our research service, Adam Lesser, highlighted the role of corporate venture capital and pointed to an article in the Detroit Free Press that gave an update of General Motors’ VC arm, which the automaker launched last year to a lot of fanfare.

Jon Lauckner from GM Ventures told the paper that his team has doled out $45 million to a wide variety of companies, including makers of electric car batteries, solar panels and biofuels. GM budgeted $100 million for the VC fund. GM is one of several companies that have launched venture capital funds in the pats year. In January this year, NRG Energy, Conoco Phillips and General Electric announced their $300 million fund to invest in areas from solar to coal conversions.

Here’s what else Adam is thinking about and reading:

  • Times are tough for many cleantech companies, so what can a startup do to weather the downturn? Focusing on simpler technologies and markets where it will find buyers more easily.
  • Business school graduates with “sustainability skills” are getting more job offers. The trend has prompted more MBA programs to offer classes such as carbon accounting and corporate social responsibility.

To read long-form reports, research notes, quarterly reports and more curated links by Adam, check out GigaOM Pro.

Image courtesy of Bright Automotive

What’s Next for Next Autoworks (Formerly V-Vehicle)?

The road hasn’t been easy for Next Autoworks (formerly V-Vehicle), which is backed by Google Ventures, T. Boone Pickens, and Kleiner Perkins. But the way forward has grown even rockier as legislators consider a proposal to shuffle around funds set aside for Next Autoworks’ project.

Lady Gaga’s Alejandro Premieres on Vevo

The newest music video by pop music sensation/possible crazy person Lady Gaga is a darker spin on her signature “out there” style. While free of product placement (as well as eyeliner) it’s getting a perfectly-executed premiere courtesy of Vevo and YouTube.

Smart Grid Firm GridPoint Goes Postal

Smart grid firm GridPoint says it’s scored a deal to provide its energy management system to potentially 2,250 United States Postal Service locations in the U.S. USPS needs all the help it can get when it comes to reducing costs.

Bright Automotive Pilots with Postal Service, Pushes Back Production Plan

Bright Automotive, a spinoff from the not-for-profit think tank and consulting firm Rocky Mountain Institute, which is looking to build a plug-in hybrid car called the IDEA, has linked up with the U.S. Postal Service. The deal is for Bright to retrofit a standard postal service fleet vehicle with its electric drive train and test the vehicle in Washington, D.C., for a year. Yeah, it’s a tiny step, and Bright has other small deals like its partnership with the U.S. Army to test plug-in hybrid vehicle tech in non-combat situations.
But the Anderson, Ind.-based company, which is run by the former chief of General Motors’ (s gm) EV-1 project, released an interesting tidbit in its press release this morning: it now plans to start production of the IDEA in 2013 (we’re waiting to hear back on a more specific timeline). Last summer Bright Automotive had a plan to start producing fleet vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2012, which Bright CEO John Waters acknowledged was ambitious and was partly based on trying to secure a $450 million loan from the DOE.
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