Transonic Combustion, a Camarillo, Calif.-based startup working on a fuel-injection system that could help gasoline (and someday biodiesel) cars hit 100 MPG, has hired Brian Ahlborn to replace founder Mike Cheiky as president and CEO. Cheiky, a serial inventor who devised Transonic’s core technology, has begun work on a cellulosic biofuels venture set to remain in stealth until mid-2009. Transonic said today Cheiky will stay on as director and technical advisor for the 2-year-old startup, which has backing from Khosla Ventures, Rustic Canyon Partners, and Venrock.
Ahlborn, former president of McLaren Performance Technologies and a VP at Linamar Corporation (s LNR) (he also had a stint at GM (s GM)), comes as the latest in a string of recruits from the legacy auto world — a seduction process that can only be getting easier. Transonic brought in hires from Ford (s F) and Delphi (s DPHIQ) shortly before securing a third injection of funds from Khosla Ventures, making Vinod Khosla the startup’s largest preferred shareholder.