Transonic Combustion Closes $32M Series D To Advance Car Tech


Transonic Combustion Closes $32M Series D To Advance Car Tech
Yuliya Chernova
November 07, 2012
(c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

With $32 million in Series D funds, Transonic Combustion Inc. is heading down the long road to getting a new technology into a mass-produced car.┬áThe Camarillo, Calif.-based company has developed a fuel injection system that can either decrease a gas-engine-powered car’s emissions, or help burn fuel more efficiently. Both applications are being spurred by recent legislation. In California and Europe new emissions rules were passed, and on the federal level in the U.S. and in Europe, fuel economy standards are being stiffened.”We have a fairly efficient, straightforward technology to meet the legislation [requirements],” said Wolfgang Bullmer, chief executive of the company.

The company raised its capital from existing investors Venrock, Khosla Ventures , Rustic Canyon Partners and Saints Capital. The funding came in tranches and closed about two weeks ago, said Mr. Bullmer. Existing investors gave funding to the company in order to keep product development going and to not distract it with fundraising and due-diligence from outside investors, said the CEO.

“You have to design the product into the engine, or you have to design the engine together with the fuel injection system. That’s one of the reasons we are on such a long-term timeline,” said Mr. Bullmer.

This timeline has shifted over the years. The company’s previous management team referred to a near-term 100-mile-per-gallon car enabled by Transonic’s technology, according to news reports from a few years ago. Mr. Bullmer said that he expects his technology could be commercialized by the end of 2015. Transonic was founded in 2006.

“Leadership changed and some statements changed,” said Mr. Bullmer, who had joined in 2010, when asked why the original projections were different from the new ones. The earlier promises not coming to fruition “affected the financing but not the extent that the company would close,” said Mr. Bullmer. He declined to discuss the issue further.
Now, said the CEO, the company, which has 37 employees and is hiring, is making solid progress. It’s working with several automakers on testing its fuel injection system in test engines in the automakers’ labs, said Mr. Bullmer. He said that the details are protected under non-disclosure agreements, and that customers don’t want to have their names be made public.

Interest picked up as new regulation was passed, said Mr. Bullmer. He said it’s hard to discuss the costs of using its fuel injection system versus the standard one, because a lot depends on how the engine is designed. “It’s in the ballpark, so that customers are interested,” said Mr. Bullmer.

The company still has more to prove, and its technology competes with alternatives that help car companies meet emissions and fuel economy standard.