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Bill Gates, venture capitalist invest $23.5 million in EcoMotors

Mon, 12 Jul 2010

EcoMotors International has received $23.5 million from Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and investor Vinod Khosla for engineering and testing of its trademarked Opoc engine technology.

EcoMotors said in a statement Monday that the investment marks a key advance in commercializing its opposed piston-opposed cylinder engine. The engine maker plans to use the funds for completing testing and building demonstration units.

Further details about the funding have not been disclosed.

EcoMotors CEO Don Runkle said it is terrific to have the support of prominent investors. He also said EcoMotors' engines will be built in Michigan because of the state's resources and talent. Runkle is a former executive of General Motors and Delphi Corp.

EcoMotors, based in suburban Detroit, says the Opoc architecture allows its opposed piston-opposed cylinder engines to use 50 percent fewer parts than standard engines, while providing 50 percent more fuel efficiency. Runkle says the company is working on its sixth-generation engine and the new funds may be used for the next engine configuration.

Touting the tech

Gates, also co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement that the technology may be a stepping stone in advancing affordable, low-emission transportation.

Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 and was a general partner of the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers in California. In 2004, he founded venture capital firm Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif., to invest in various green technologies. The firm owns 47 percent of EcoMotors.

Opoc was conceived by Peter Hofbauer, former head of powertrain development at Volkswagen AG and now EcoMotors' chairman and chief technology officer, the company said.

Hofbauer designed the VW high-speed diesel engine that became the foundation for the clean diesel engine used in the Jetta and other VW vehicles, EcoMotors said.

PRESS RELEASE: Khosla Ventures and Bill Gates Invest in EcoMotors' Revolutionary opoc

By Ursula Zerilli- Automotive News