Quercus Trust has just made yet another plug-in play. The stealthy private equity investor — whose quiet cleantech investments include plug-in hybrid propulsion startup Odyne and ultracapacitor developer Graphene Energy — led a $12 million round of Series A investment in ETV Motors, a year-old electric vehicle powertrain startup based in Herzliya, Israel.
Venture capital firm 21Ventures also joined the round, which ETV Motors said on Friday will help it accelerate a multiyear research and development program for what it calls “enabling technologies” for extended-range electric vehicles — including a microturbine generator and a 4.7-volt lithium-ion battery.
News of the investment comes on the heels of another powertrain startup working with microturbine technology, Adura Systems, emerging from self-described “stealth mode” with ambitious plans to sell modular hybrid powertrains for buses in China, and eventually license the technology to major automakers for cars and trucks on the U.S. market. Like Adura, ETV Motors hopes the lower cost, simplicity and flexibility of the microturbine — it has relatively few moving parts and can run on several different fuels — will help it gain a competitive advantage in the powertrain supply market.
Of course, the technology remains experimental for commercial scale. ETV Motors said in its announcement that the Quercus and 21 Ventures investment is milestone-driven, so the full $12 million won’t come through unless the startup can deliver on set benchmarks. At this early stage (ETV doesn’t expect to begin proof-of-concept testing in an actual car — a converted Toyota Prius — until early summer) the startup aims to eventually provide both component and system technology to automakers and automotive suppliers — possibly, as AutoblogGreen notes, through licensing or co-development.
Images courtesy ETV Motors