Ted Turner continued his commitment to sustainability today with the unveiling of the first purpose-built 100 mpg plug-in vehicle at the Ted’s Montana Grill in Arlington, Virginia.

The IDEA, created by Bright Automotive, is a electric multi-use light truck intended for government and commercial fleets.

“We created the IDEA by starting with a clean sheet of paper, listening to customer needs, and using breakthrough technologies and materials,” says John E. Waters, CEO and president of Bright Automotive.

Turner’s commitment to environmentalism landed his restaurant’s “green team” on the cover of QSR just last month. In another step to improve awareness and create solutions for environmental challenges, the cable-turned-restaurant mogul contributed to the original plan for the plug-in vehicle while it was still in development stages.

The IDEA is estimated to save a typical customer more than 1,500 gallons of gasoline and reduce emissions and carbon dioxide output by up to 16 tons per year.

That’s possible because the IDEA uses battery power for the first 30 miles and after that functions like a hybrid. For commercial customers with a 50-mile daily urban route, it uses about a half a gallon of gas.

Turner’s interest in fuel-efficient vehicles isn’t a first for the restaurant industry, however. Green upstart Pizza Fusion uses hybrid cars for its delivery operation and even industry giant McDonald’s has biodiesel vehicles in its supply fleet.

“The promise of plug-in vehicles and smart grid technology is not a dream; it is achievable today, here in America,” Waters says.

“We can reduce energy use, save money, and create true sustainability by giving customers what they want, and what they need to perform their jobs better.”

High-volume production of the IDEA will begin in the U.S. by the end of 2012. Bright Automotive plans to produce 50,000 vehicles annually by 2013.

–Blair Chancey