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A lot of the innovation around next-gen car technology has focused on electric cars and biofuels, but there’s a massive need for technology that can make our current cars more fuel-efficient. On Thursday, a startup called Pinnacle Engines emerged with just such a technology and a round of venture capital backing, and the company says it can deliver an engine with 30 to 50 percent better fuel economy.
Pinnacle says it has created an entirely new four-stroke engine with a design that uses opposed-pistons and can operate in different modes depending on operating conditions, making it more efficient. The engine also has efficiencies via variable valve timing, direct injection, and turbocharging. Pinnacle says it plans to commercialize its engine by 2013.
Pinnacle is just one of a handful of startups working on more efficient engine technology. I caught up with Achates Power CEO David Johnson yesterday, and he said Achates is building a closed piston, 2-stroke engine that is 10 to 15 percent better than state of art diesel engines that exist today. EcoMotors is building a diesel engine with stackable modules, and where one of the engine modules can be shut off when it isn’t needed. (Here’s 7 startups building green car tech for a pre-electric world).
Achates and EcoMotors both have high-profile investors, as does Pinnacle, which has investors that include NEA, Bessemer Venture Partners and Infield Capital; it has raised $13.5 million from this group. Pinnacle also announced that Ron Hoge has taken over as Pinnacle’s new chairman and CEO.
Building new engines, getting them manufactured and convincing auto makers to put the engines in their cars is a long road. Achates says it could take three to six year depending on the project. Pinnacle’s engine is two years away from the market, and the company says it has a joint development and licensing agreement with an Asian vehicle maker.