Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2014

EcoMotors International

by John D. Macomber and Hermes Alvarez

Abstract

Eco-Motors, funded in part by Khosla Ventures, has to decide how to go to market with a new technology for internal combustion engines for automotive and industrial use. The OPOC engine has opposed pistons and is a two-stroke engine, as compared to a more traditional in-line or V-oriented 6, 8, or 12 cylinder gas or diesel engine. A two-stroke engine is cheaper to build and has higher power output than a four-stroke engine but historically has been more polluting. At present in the U.S., two-stroke engines are mostly deployed in lawnmowers and chainsaws with four-stroke engines the leaders in cars, boats, and generators. Should the company be an invention company licensing its technology; an engine designer and manufacturer selling to auto, marine, and fixed OEM companies; or a fully integrated power and transport solution? How is the value chain currently organized, what obstacles are there in going to market, and how can this company thrive with this innovation that is cleaner and cheaper than the incumbent but hard to explain and to deploy?

Citation:

Macomber, John D., and Hermes Alvarez. "EcoMotors International." Harvard Business School Case 215-012, July 2014.