Posts Tagged ‘purpose’
Designed for fleet customers – the types who have for long relied on those heavy, white-paneled vans – the IDEA sports two important numbers: a 40-mile all-electric range and almost 40 mpg once the battery is depleted and the powertrain shifts to charge sustaining mode. The EV range was, until this week, limited to 30 miles, but Bright put in a new 13 kWh battery pack, which has the side benefit of qualifying the vehicle for a higher PHEV tax credit from the federal government. Bright has calculated that each IDEA using the new pack will save government operators “18 cents per mile, reduce gasoline use by 1,500 gallons per year, and reduce CO2 emissions by 16 tons per year.”
The fuel savings are just part of the IDEA, though. From the very beginning, the van was designed with input from fleet operators and drivers. The functionality that fleets need was paired with the lightweight mentality of RMI’s Hypercar, which shares at least a little DNA with the IDEA and resulted in the asymmetrical rear doors, a built-in bulkhead and a passenger seat that doesn’t move and can turn into a desk. The seat also offers third, walk-through position that gives the driver easy access to the sidewalk without needing to exit the vehicle on the traffic side. Also, since the passenger seat does not adjust forward or backward, the passenger airbag could be simpler. It’s somewhat astonishing how much mileage the engineers could squeeze out of dozens (probably hundreds) of little changes compared to traditional fleet vehicles…
Behind the seats sits a beautiful carbon fiber bulkhead. Right now, the bulkhead is a little too close to the windshield, cramping the cabin a bit. In the production version of the IDEA, the divider will be moved back a bit in response to user suggestions. While most delivery vans don’t have a bulkhead built in, Bright engineers noticed that most delivery vans get one installed right away and so designed the IDEA to come with one standard. This single decision resulted in a lot of other, surprising benefits.
For one thing, the wall (which might not be carbon fiber in the production model), helps strengthen the vehicle and transfers crash loads better than not having a bulkhead. Also, by confining the driver cabin to just the two seats, the heating and cooling units don’t need to work as hard and therefore can be smaller. The benefits mean that, by adding the bulkhead, the IDEA actually became lighter than it would be without that part.
If I was still working at traffic management for the right sort of corporation, I’d get us on the waiting list for these critters. RTFA article for details, more photos, road test. Purpose-built makes a lot of sense – and even keeps beancounters happy – if the design is as inclusive as this. Something that seems to be happening, more and more, nowadays. That’s a topic for another post sometime.
Folks who make this blog a regular stop know my only hope/criticism in advance. I wish they planned for a pickup truck version.