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Bill Gates-Backed EcoMotors Plans First Engine Factory in China

EcoMotors International, the fuel-efficient engine maker backed by billionaires Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla, chose China as the location for its first factory, which will be built with support from the automotive-parts conglomerate Anhui Zhongding Holding Group Co.

Zhongding will invest more than $200 million to build the plant in China’s Anhui province, Allen Park, Michigan-based EcoMotors said today in a statement.

Closely held EcoMotors expects the plant to produce 150,000 engines a year starting in 2014, representing $1 billion of potential revenue, Chief Executive Officer Don Runkle said in a phone interview.

The deal “gives us a toehold in the biggest engine market and fastest-growing engine market in the world,” Runkle said.

EcoMotors’s Opoc engine uses opposed pistons and cylinders that improve fuel economy and lower greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 50 percent compared to conventional engines, Runkle said. The company has talked to potential customers including Airbus SAS, Boeing Co. and Generac Power Systems Inc.

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