General Motors Co. has set up its own venture capital company with $100 million to invest in companies that are developing new auto-related technology.
The automaker announced the formation of General Motors Ventures LLC in a statement released early Friday, saying it wants to nurture transportation technology and help bring it to market so GM has the latest innovation available.
Jon Lauckner, now head of global product planning, will be president of the venture capital company and remain a GM vice president, starting July 1. He will report to Stephen Girsky, vice chairman of corporate strategy and a GM board member.
The $100 million is an initial investment. GM says it already is exploring a number of equity investments in auto-related technology.
The subsidiary likely will make small investments at first in startup companies, said spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb. The structure of the investments likely will vary, and GM Venture Capital could take ownership stakes in some of the companies, she said.
No investments have been made yet, but the company hopes to do so very soon, she said.
GM already has taken ownership stakes in two companies that are developing ethanol fuel technologies.
In 2008 the company announced investments in Boston's Mascoma Corp., which is working to develop ethanol from wood chips, waste paper sludge and switch grass. It also invested in Coskata Inc., a renewable energy company based in Illinois that plans to produce ethanol from agricultural leftovers and municipal and industrial waste.
The size of GM's stakes in the companies was not disclosed.
GM and other automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC have pushed flexible-fuel vehicles that run on ethanol as an alternative in the face of rising gasoline prices and tougher fuel efficiency standards.
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