Two Silicon Valley venture capital firms announced investments in alternative-fuel technologies at the recent auto show in Detroit. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers made a multimillion-dollar second-round investment intended to put the Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sports sedan into production in 2009, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Created by Henrik Fisker, the Fisker Karma will cost about $80,000 and use a lithium-ion battery pack to achieve a 600-mile-plus range. The company intends to build “the ultimate eco-chic car, (ones that) marry unparalleled style with environmental consciousness.” Fisker, based in Irvine, hasn’t identified a manufacturing plant or partner for the car.

General Motors and Toyota are racing to put the first plug-in hybrid — a vehicle that allows home charging of the electric portion of its electric-gasoline powerplant — into production.

The companies didn’t announce the amount of money, but Kleiner’s Ray Lane told the Wall Street Journal that it was more than $10 million. This is the first major funding announced by the Menlo Park firm since former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore joined it.

Meanwhile, Khosla Ventures has invested in EcoMotors, a Detroit company working to create a 100-plus mpg diesel engine by 2011.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet

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