EcoMotors Founder Peter Hofbauer Says Company Is Inking Customer Deals, Eyeing Production Facility in Michigan for Its “Opoc” Engine

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fewer restrictions in getting technology to market than the U.S., Hofbauer expects China will be the first country to see the opoc technology in vehicles on the road. “We are there full speed on the Chinese market,” he says.

The U.S. market is still in the game for EcoMotors’ opoc engine, though. The firm just signed another deal with a U.S. auto company, but can’t reveal the name just yet. We can expect the announcement in a week or two, Hofbauer says, but for now, know that it’s “one of world’s leading truck and engine companies.”

And EcoMotors isn’t just looking to ink licensing deals with auto manufacturers. The company also plans to develop the engine itself, for use in commercial airplanes and helicopters, as well as for specialty vehicles like sports cars.

“There are lots of other applications where we also intend to produce this engine,” says Hofbauer. “Our engine is very good for aircraft, but it’s also good for wherever you need a very compact engine.”

And on this front, the company plans to develop and produce the engine right in Michigan. It’s already eyeing an old General Motors factory in the Wolverine State that it hopes can be retooled for that purpose, and has applied for a loan from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the project, Hofbauer says. That production, which may not ramp up for a few years, could add 1,000 direct jobs in Michigan and potentially seven times that number in indirect jobs at parts suppliers and other companies involved with making the opoc engine, Hofbauer says.

Speaking of money, EcoMotors raised a $23 million Series B round from Khosla and Bill Gates last summer. Those two investors are willing to return for a Series C round, but the financing may not be necessary if the company can continue to ink customer deals, Hofbauer says.

The military use for the opoc engine has been a bit on the sidelines, as all the core development work has been done at EcoMotors (and not APT) since the company kicked off, Hofbauer says. But the defense sector is not necessarily out of the picture, he says. “There is still a high interest on the military side,” Hofbauer says. “They are waiting for the development, which is done at EcoMotors. The military wants to use commercial products for cost reasons. They are watching very carefully what we are doing at EcoMotors, and they will jump in if we are ready.”

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