Runkle's diesel company finds development cash
DETROIT -- EcoMotors International, a maker of lightweight diesel engines backed in part by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, will use a new round of funding to continue development of a new type of diesel.
The company announced last week that it has received its third round of funding, this time for $32.5 million. The funds came from Gates and two venture capital companies: Braemer Energy Ventures of New York and Khosla Ventures of California. All have invested previously.
The EcoMotors engine is called an "opposed piston-opposed cylinder," or OPOC. It has two horizontally opposed cylinders that power a crankshaft in the center. It eliminates traditional valves and cylinder heads, slashing the number of parts involved and thereby cutting weight and increasing efficiency.
The $32.5 million will be used to continue developing the OPOC engine, start development of a gasoline engine and begin working with compressed natural gas engines. EcoMotors CEO Don Runkle, who spent 30 years at GM, including a stretch as head of North American vehicle engineering, said most of the money will be used for diesel engine development.
EcoMotors plans to build engines within five years, said COO John Coletti, a former Ford executive.
EcoMotors' customers include Navistar, an Illinois manufacturer of diesel engines and medium and heavy trucks; Wisconsin-based Generac, a manufacturer of generators; and Chinese auto company Jiangling Motors Co., which is investigating the engine for use in cars.