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.