Gates, Khosla Invest $23M in Detroit’s EcoMotors to Develop Efficient Engine

7/12/10

Bill Gates is betting $23 million that the internal combustion engine still has a few good years left in it. The Microsoft chairman, along with Menlo Park, CA-based Khosla Ventures, has invested in Troy, MI-based EcoMotors International.

What they’re betting on is EcoMotors’ opposed-piston, opposed-cylinder (OPOC) technology for gas and diesel engines. EcoMotors says its technology will deliver up to 60 percent greater fuel efficiency than conventional engines at half the weight and size. Plus, they’re cheaper to manufacture and operate.

“The opoc engine can be an important step in providing affordable, low-emission transportation for the developing world,” Gates said in a prepared statement. “EcoMotors has developed a promising technology that could help reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions in a low-cost, globally relevant way.”

In May, EcoMotors announced it was set to receive $18 million from China-based automotive supplier Zhongding Holding Group-a large Tier 1 auto supplier with a U.S. subsidiary in Monroe, MI-and Global Optima, an engineering services company based in Allen Park, MI.

The company is using the investment to further develop the engine. CEO Don Runkle has said that he plans to expand the company in Michigan.