Executives from Zhongding Power and EcoMotors announce the closing of a commercial agreement to produce the OPOC engine

$200m Chinese factory to build radical engine design

One of China's largest auto parts makers will construct a factory to build a ‘disruptive’ new engine developed by a US startup.

Zhongding Power will be the first manufacturer to produce EcoMotors' OPOC (opposed piston, opposed cylinder) engine, which the company claims features smaller size, lower cost, higher fuel economy and fewer emissions.

The Chinese firm plans to ramp up production in Xuangcheng in 2014 and will supply engines to a range of customers for use in commercial and off road vehicles, as well as stationary generator sets.

The plant, about 150 miles west of Shanghai in Anhui province, will have an annual capacity of 150,000 and will also supply engines to EcoMotors for sale to its own customers.

"This agreement is a key milestone in bringing our innovative engine technology to market and underscores the potent disruptive force that is OPOC," says Don Runkle, CEO of EcoMotors.

"Our game-changing 21st century internal-combustion OPOC engine technology offers a unique combination of lower fuel consumption and operating costs at lower production costs.  These characteristics are important to progressive companies and countries as they seek to overcome environmental challenges of the future."

The OPOC engine design is the brainchild of Peter Hofbauer, a former Volkswagen engineer and chairman of EcoMotors in Detroit.

The basic OPOC design features two cylinders and four pistons. It has far fewer parts than a conventional engine and produces more power for its size with different versions of the OPOC engine able to run on diesel, petrol or compressed natural gas.

The initial design to be produced by Zhongding is a diesel engine that will be built in different versions, from 180 to 240 horsepower, according to Runkle.

Zhongding also is discussing an option to build a second OPOC engine plant with similar capacity, Runkle says, and, if approved, the second plant might build smaller versions of the engine producing 80 to 100 horsepower for passenger cars.

"This partnership represents another great opportunity for US-China collaboration in scaling clean technologies," says Andrew Chung , EcoMotors board member and partner at Khosla Ventures, which leads their China activities.

"With a full funding commitment from Zhongding EcoMotors proves that with great technology cleantech companies can indeed commercialise capital efficiently alongside visionary partners.”

EcoMotors, founded in 2008, is backed by investors including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Braemar Energy Ventures and so far has raised more than $66 million in venture funding.

Xia Ding Hu , CEO of Zhongding Power, says, "Continued progress in development of the OPOC engine has brought us to the next phase of development.

“With the enthusiastic backing from both our provincial and national governmental bodies, we are now ready to complete the design of the engine as we head toward launching a state-of-the-art OPOC engine manufacturing facility in Anhui Province."

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