5 of 12
Don Runkle
CEO, EcoMotors International

When investors like Bill Gates and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla put money in a small company in Troy, MI, it's worth taking note. Don Runkle's start-up is testing a design that could provide greatly improved power, cleanliness and efficiency in an internal-combustion engine.

Called the "opoc," an acronym for opposed pistons and opposed cylinders, the engine would be half the weight and size of conventional engines, as well as having 50% fewer parts. The new engine could power helicopters and generators, as well as cars and trucks.

EcoMotors is headed by a team of two auto-industry veterans: Runkle, a former GM executive behind the company's original electric car, the EV1, and Peter Hofbauer, a former VW engineer who conceived of the "opoc" design.

Says Runkle: "Detroit is one of the best places in the world to start an engine company due to its vast technical expertise, as well as the suppliers that already are here.''

NEXT: Simone DeSousa

Last updated August 09 2010: 11:01 AM ET
For the first time in memory, all of the Detroit Three are run by industry outsiders, and they are making their presence felt in different ways. More
What do you do with an old car-body plant nobody wants? You turn it into a creative hive for upstart businesses that offers a spark of hope for Detroit's economy. More
Facing thousands of vacant homes, cities find the best option may be to downsize their town with the help of land banks. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.