Microsoft Corporation Chairman Bill Gates and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla have invested $23.5 million in Series B funding in EcoMotors International for use in development and testing of its trademarked opposed piston-opposed cylinder opoc® engine technology.
In a statement issued today, EcoMotors called the investment a key advance in its efforts to commercialize its engine technology and said the funds will be used for engineering, testing and to build demonstration units.
EcoMotors CEO Don Runkle, a former executive with Delphi Corporation and General Motors Company, said the support of such high profile investors is a huge endorsement of the company. He also said EcoMotors will manufacture its engines in Michigan because of the state’s existing infrastructure and talent pool.
Suburban Detroit-based EcoMotors says its opoc® architecture allows it to manufacture engines that consist of 50% fewer parts, are half the size and weight, and deliver 50% greater fuel efficiency than conventional engines. The company is currently working on the sixth generation of the opoc® engine.
In a statement, Bill Gates said EcoMotors new technology may serve as a stepping stone in the advancement of more affordable, environmentally-friendly transportation. “The opoc® engine can be an important step in providing affordable, low-emission transportation for the developing world. EcoMotors has developed a promising technology that could help reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions in a low-cost, globally relevant way.”
Khosla is a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and a general partner in the California-based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers. He founded Khosla Ventures in 2004 to invest in green technologies. The firm owns a 47% stake in EcoMotors.
In a press release Khosla said, “Opoc® is precisely the kind of game-changing innovation that we at Khosla Ventures are passionate about.” He went on to say, “The only truly disruptive technologies are those that can provide not only payback in months but also economic and carbon benefits to large segments of the world’s population without the need for subsidies or massive infrastructure investments. Among next-generation propulsion systems, the opoc® engine is broadly applicable and can provide lower carbon emissions than almost any other technology.”
The opoc® engine technology was conceived by former Volkswagen AG head of powertrain development, Peter Hofbauer who currently serves as EcoMotors’ chairman and CTO.
During his tenure with Volkswagen, Hofbauer designed the high-speed diesel engine used in the Jetta and a number of other models.
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