Walton-Family Backed Achates Raises $35.2 Million

Achates Power Inc., a developer of efficient internal-combustion engines, raised $35.2 million from investors including Sequoia Capital Partners and the venture capital arm of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s founding family.

Achates, based in San Diego, will use the money to further engine development and continue to expand in regions and industries that need fuel-efficient power, Chief Executive Officer David Johnson said in an interview. Achates uses opposed pistons and cylinders in a design that the company said boosts fuel efficiency by 55 percent for gasoline powertrains.

The closely held company said it has now secured more than $90 million in four rounds. Interest has come from the automotive, defense, shipping and power-generation sectors, helped by regulatory pressure for increased fuel economy and lower emissions, Johnson said.

“I think people and industries realize that the technology they have today, and what they are developing in their labs for tomorrow, isn’t enough to meet the mounting challenges,” Johnson said. “And in many cases solutions they have tend to be very expensive. That’s where we’ve been able to offer a different paradigm.”

The opposed-piston engines emit 30 percent less nitrogen oxide and improve diesel fuel economy by 21 percent, Achates said.

Achates is helping develop the next-generation combat engine for the U.S. Army. The company doesn’t have an engine in production yet, Johnson said.

Madrone Capital Partners, the Walton family investment arm, has invested in Achates since its founding in 2004, Johnson said. Other investors include Sequoia Capital, RockPort Capital Partners, InterWest Partners and Triangle Peak Partners, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

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