Bright Automotive, a startup hybrid electric vehicle company that had planned to invest $12 million and create more than 200 jobs in Rochester Hills, says the government has forced the company to cry "uncle" and shut down operations.
The Indiana-based company, which in 2010 received tax credits from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority and a matching tax exemption from the city of Rochester Hills, was awaiting a loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, a $25 billion program created by Congress in 2008 to advanced President Obama's goal to create green auto jobs.
In total, more than 100 companies applied for $42.7 billion in loans. But just $8 billion has been awarded, and the loan program has received criticism from members of Congress and CEOs.
in the former Chrysler tech center off Hamlin Road in Rochester Hills. The plan was to design and test its Bright IDEA, a 100-mpg plug-in hybrid electric vehicle commercial fleet van.
After several persuasive letters to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and his department urging the awarding of the loan, Bright executives wrote a final letter to Chu dated Tuesday, announcing its plans to withdraw the loan application and close up.
"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," CEO Reuben Munger and COO Mike Donoughe wrote.
The letter (attached as a PDF file) went on to say the company has received a series of "conditional commitment" letters from the energy department, each one including more "onerous terms than the last."
"The first three were workable for us, but the last was so outlandish that most rational and objective persons would likely conclude that your team was negotiating in bad faith," the letter stated.
"The actions – or better said 'lack of action' – by your team means hundreds of great manufacturing and technical jobs, union and non-union alike, and thousands of indirect jobs in Indiana and Michigan will not see the light of day.
"For us, this is a particularly sad day for our employees and their families, as well as the employees and families of our partners."
Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett said he personally spoke with Chu while in Washington, DC, last year, urging him to approve the Bright loan.
The project was estimated to generate new taxes in the city from a planned $12 million investment in personal property — computers, software and other equipment.