Battery Company Sakti3 Receives $4.2 Million from General Motors Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures

Sakti3 Sakti3, Inc., an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based developer of next-generation lithium-ion batteries, announced earlier this month that it received an investment of $4.2 million from General Motors Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures to advance the firm’s manufacturing capabilities. The companies also plan to work together to speed commercialization of Sakti3 battery cells. These two investors join previous investors Khosla Ventures and Beringea.  In April of this year Sakti3 received $7 million in Series B financing from Khosla Ventures and Beringea.

“These investments by General Motors Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures bring us not only capital, but partnerships that will speed our commercialization efforts,” said Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3. “Our product planning in the automotive and portables sectors will be accelerated by working with these two preeminent firms. The General Motors agreement partners us with a company that is clearly a global leader in vehicle electrification. Itochu Technology Ventures has a strong focus on energy technologies, and on growth markets in Asia. We’re very pleased to have engaged investors who will help us purposefully and quickly create our target products and address key regional markets.”

"GM Ventures is making strategic investments in new technology to support our core automotive business," said Jon Lauckner, president GM Ventures, LLC. "Our objective is to identify start-up companies that offer the best future technology for our vehicles, including next generation propulsion systems. In this case, our investment in Sakti3 gives us access to an innovative battery technology that has the potential to be a mainstream solution for electrically-driven cars and trucks of the future."

The following video contains additional background on Sakti3.

Bright Automotive Is First Company to Receive Investment from General Motors Ventures

Bright Automotive Today, Bright Automotive and General Motors (GM) announced that the companies had entered into a strategic partnership and that General Motors Ventures has provided funding to Bright Automotive.  This is the first investment made by GM Ventures, which was launched in June 2010 by GM with $100 million.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in July. GM Ventures provided funding to Bright Automotive this week, and the companies intend to complete the formal agreements later this year. Upon completion of the agreements and other terms, GM Ventures would have a minority stake in Bright Automotive and Bright Automotive would receive access to GM technologies, and advanced engine and transmission systems. Finacial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"Funding early-stage start-up companies is a new way of doing business at GM to accelerate the introduction of innovative technology to support our core automotive business and give us a competitive advantage," said Jon Lauckner, President of GM Ventures. "In this case, our funding of Bright Automotive will accelerate the introduction of advanced propulsion and light-weight technologies in the commercial vehicle market."

Bright Automotive was launched in January 2008 from the Rocky Mountain Institute.  The compny said that it will use the new funding to accelerate production of the IDEA, its plug-in hybrid vehicle for the commercial fleet market. The company is also continuing to seek a low interest loan through the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Bright Automotive states that the IDEA will be able to run in electric mode for 40 miles before switching to an estimated 36-miles per gallon (mpg) hybrid mode for an overall potential 100+ mpg.

"This relationship is an important step forward for Bright, and a strong endorsement of our highly experienced automotive team and our incredible vehicle," said Reuben Munger, Bright Automotive Chairman and CEO. "With this deal, Bright gets financial support that puts us on the fast-track toward mass production of the IDEA. And perhaps just as importantly, we gain a strategic partner that is a world leader in electrification."

“We talked with several leading automakers, but GM clearly had the right vision, the most capable technology, and the closest alignment with our business approach,” said Michael Brylawski, Bright Automotive Executive Vice President. “We are thrilled to work with GM to create American jobs, stimulate technology development, and build an innovative American vehicle that will help reduce oil dependence and cut costs for businesses.”

Some background on Bright Automotive is available in the following video.

General Motors Creates GM Ventures and Provides $100 Million in Initial Funding

General Motors (GM) announced earlier this month that it had created a venture capital subsidiary, General Motors Ventures, LLC, designed to help the company identify and develop innovative technologies in the automotive/transportation sector.

GM Ventures will be led by Jon J. Lauckner, GM Vice President and President, General Motors Ventures, reporting to Stephen J. Girsky, GM Vice Chairman Corporate Strategy and New Business Development.  Lauckner's new position is effective July 1, 2010.  He previously served as GM Vice President of Global Product Planning. 

"We are constantly looking for ways to deliver the best technology for our customers," said Mr. Girsky. "Our goal is to nurture these innovative technologies to help bring them to market, and to ensure our customers have access to the best technology available."

General Motors Ventures has been funded with an initial investment of $100 million, and is currently exploring equity investments in a number of auto-related technologies and business models.

Mascoma Receives $49.5 Million from the U.S Department of Energy and the State of Michigan

Mascoma

Mascoma Corporation, a Boston, Massachusetts-based company involved in the development and deployment of cellulosic ethanol technologies, announced ealier this week that it received a $49.5 million — $26 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and $23.5 million from the State of Michigan.  The funds will be used for the development of a cellulosic fuel production facility in Kinross in Chippewa County, Michigan that uses non-food biomass to convert woodchips into fuel. Mascoma investors General Motors Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation are also providing support for this project.

Mascoma will be working on this project with Marquette, Michigan-based JM Longyear.  This partnership will involve the creation of a new company, Frontier Renewable Resources, which will own the project. Mascoma will also be working with Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University to adapt Mascoma’s technology and supply chain options for the Michigan feedstocks used in production.  The Kinross facility will use sustainably harvested mixed hardwood chips and other non-food biomass materials as the raw material for the production of cellulosic fuel.  The facility is expected to eventually produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and other fuel products annually.

"Michigan is proud to partner with Mascoma as a part of our commitment to lead the nation in alternative energy production," said Governor Granholm. "This company, and their partners, will create jobs in Michigan as they develop the next generation of cellulosic ethanol that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make fuel more affordable for our families."

"We’ve targeted industries like alternative energy to diversify Michigan’s economy and create new jobs," Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito said. "Innovative tools combined with effective partnerships are enabling us to attract high-tech companies like Mascoma and accelerate Michigan’s transformation."

"Mascoma is pleased and honored to receive this important funding from the DOE and the State of Michigan," said Bruce A. Jamerson, Chairman and CEO of Mascoma Corporation. "This funding will allow us to accelerate commercial production of low cost, low carbon fuel that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence," Jamerson continued.

"I applaud the decision by the Department of Energy and the state of Michigan to provide the incentives Mascoma needed to scale up the technology and accelerate construction of this facility here in Michigan," said Senator Carl Levin. "This investment in cutting-edge biofuel technology will create jobs in Michigan, and the incredible natural resources of the Upper Peninsula will help Mascoma to efficiently produce the next generation of fuels."

"Mascoma Corporation’s cellulosic fuel facility is a prime example of how Michigan continues to lead the way in solving our nation’s energy crisis while creating new jobs in a green economy," said Senator Debbie Stabenow. "I am pleased to work with the rest of the delegation and the State of Michigan to support Mascoma in their mission to develop low-carbon biofuels and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"Mascoma and the Department of Energy recognize the potential northern Michigan and our workforce hold for developing alternative energy sources," Congressman Bart Stupak said. "Mascoma’s proposed cellulosic fuels facility will be the first of its kind in the nation to produce ethanol from timber. This important federal-state-private partnership will put northern Michigan on the forefront of this developing technology, create hundreds of jobs in our community and the potential for many more. I am pleased to have played a role in helping to bring this significant investment to Chippewa County."

Masoma was founded in 2005 and has received approximately $100 million in equity investments thusfar.  Investors include Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Atlas Venture, General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pinnacle Ventures, VantagePoint Venture Partners, General Motors, and Marathon Oil.

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U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Announce “EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge”

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge is a new competition from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors (GM), Natural Resources Canada and other sponsoring organizations in which university teams will re-engineer a production GM vehicle to meet the requirements for earning Zero Emissions Vehicle credits from the California Air Resources Board.  This competition will be managed by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and is a successor event to Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility, a three-year university competition ending in May 2008 that focused on re-engineering a Chevrolet Equinox to minimize its fuel consumption and emissions.

EcoCAR is open to all accredited engineering schools in North America and DOE and GM expect to select 16 teams for the competition in April, 2008.  Each team will receive a GM production vehicle, $10,000 in seed money, a wide range of powertrain components, and technical and mentoring support from the competition sponsors. Responses to the EcoCAR RFP are due by March 3rd, 2008.

"This is one competition where everyone is a winner," said Ed Wall, manager of the Vehicle Technologies Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy. "EcoCAR demonstrates how government, industry and academia are working together to develop creative approaches and solutions to decreasing total emissions and energy consumption in some of America’s most popular vehicles."

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