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Khosla Ventures Invests in EcoMotors to Deliver Efficient Diesel Engines; Plug-in Hybrids Planned

Khosla Ventures has invested in EcoMotors, a company that is developing a new family of compact, modular, efficient diesel engines. Coinciding with this announcement, Vinod Khosla is scheduled to speak at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday, January 13, 2008.

We’re focused on powering the automotive fleet of tomorrow with fuel efficient building blocks. This new investment in efficient diesel engines from EcoMotors complements our firm’s other investments in the engine space. These companies are at the forefront of forming a serial plug-in hybrid platform with our multiple investments in new battery technology. The EcoMotors founders are experienced with multiple generations of engine design at top automotive companies. This experience will apply towards the design of the 100 mpg car.

—Vinod Khosla, Founder and Managing Partner of Khosla Ventures

The EcoMotors team has been designing engines for the past forty years. The team’s specific accomplishments include developing the first high speed diesel-engines for all Volkswagens & Audis, the first 6-cylinder diesels for Volvo, the first 6-cylinder Inline-Compact-V (VR) engine in E/W installation in a compact car, first used in the Volkswagen Golf and the VR6-engine also used by Daimler-Benz.


Harvey D

Interesting development for PHEVs.

Has anybody heard from the super light weight diesel engine (48 lbs - 50 hp) developped by Astra International Corp., of Brampton, Ontario, Canada? It is claimed to have only 50 moving parts vs 1500 and could be mass produced at a much lower cost. Looks like a rotary unit?

Another light weight diesel was also developped by Greaves Cotton, India and Bukh-Farymamn Diesel GmbH of Germany. This super light weight 2-cyls unit (24 to 48 hp) could also be interesting for lower cost, small vehicles including lower cost small PHEVs.

In principle, a light weight 48 hp generator should be enough to keep a small PHEV battery pack charged for hours or for as long as fuel is available. A 300 hp V-6 is an overkill and is much too heavy as a range extender generator.

PHEVs will become more efficient and more popular when equipped with light weight, much smaller (500 to 1000 cc) range extender generator.

Healthy Breeze

There was a German company that made 2-cylinder engines for unpiloted drone aircraft, that got 32 horsepower out of a 16 pound engine. Limbach Flugemotroen, or something was their name. It was basically a stripped down and cut in half and shurnk flat VW bug engine, air cooled, incredibly simple.

I've got to believe that there is some simple, lightweight, small and clean engine out there that can produce very efficiently at some optimal speed for onboard power generation.


yes a engine design for driving generator can be simplified a lot since you don't care about torque, efficiency at low load etc. A 2 stroke diesel would be ideal or even a HCCI/Atkison design



Indeed, 2 stroke diesels are very efficient (e.g. marine diesel engines) but they have very low specific power ratings (due to their low RPM nature) which would make them too heavy for a PHEV application.

I see a turbocharged 1L I4 as being a good fit for a PHEV. Such an engine at ~6000rpm would produce ~100hp. Said engine would be optimized to run at a lower speed and deliver closer to ~50hp.

An external combustion engine (such as cyclone power) would make emissions control much easier but considering that automakers are setup to produce ICEs I see them as being the more likely solution.


I'd like to add that if engines were optimized for E85 (I'm NOT a fan, but I'm just saying...) they could have a higher specific output and therefore be smaller and lighter.


Vinod Khosla has done it again. He has recognized a leading edge technology managed by the "experience factor". Prof. Peter Hofbauer is the father of the modern high speed diesel engine. He brought the VW rabbit to market during the energy crisis in the 1970's. He and his team of engineers are ready to rock the world in fuel economy.

EcoMotors could become the leading force in the high efficiency and low emissions engine arena. Political and consumer will is focused on this sector today. When the economic factors along with political support come together- Great things happen! This is a formula for great success.


The Linear Combustion engine has 50% energy to mechanical efficiency and could perhaps be a 2 cycle diesel.


I like simple designs that do the job efficiently. The Linear design produces efficient power over a wide band of operating conditions.


Tesla's parallel disk bladeless turbine: 10HP/lb.

Powerhouse in a Hat.


Tesla turbines are interesting, but I have not seen any definitive proof of efficiency. A professor did some work on it and said it "could" be over 60%, but his experimental data did not show this.

I am a big fan of the disc turbine, but without real lab data, it is a bit too much based on faith for me. If some lab or University came out with definitive data showing 50% or greater efficiency, I would be convinced.


Hoping the principals mentioned in this article at some point read this since I can't find their website or contact info.
I read an article mentioning Ecomotors and their diesel that gets 50% better mileage. I have long thought a plug in hybrid burning 100% biodiesel would be the ticket for best mileage and cleanest operation. Biodiesel is much cleaner than regular diesel and better for the engine than the new low sulfer diesel and diesel engines love to turn generators. The electric motor could be used to aid in highway acceleration to take the "sluggishness" out. No other manufacturer will warrantee more than 5% biodiesel fuel to the best of my knowledge. This is useless.
So there it is. Make a 100% biodiesel burning plug in hybrid. What kind of mileage might that yeild?


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