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Former Porsche CEO Tries to Save Combustion Engine From Scrap Heap

Dec. 13, 2018
MWI says its microwave pulse ignition boosts fuel efficiency.

As tightening emission rules force the car industry to embrace battery power, a German startup says it has the technology to give the combustion engine a reprieve.

Using pulsed microwaves to ignite fuel rather than spark plugs or glow plugs, the engineers behind MWI Micro Wave Ignition AG say they can cut consumption of gasoline and diesel by as much as 30 percent, and emissions by as much as 80 percent, because the fuel burns at a lower temperature.

The company based in the small Black Forest town of Empfingen has won some powerful backers. Among its shareholders is Wendelin Wiedeking, the former chief executive officer of Porsche AG credited with reviving the iconic German sports-car maker.

MWI has mandated Macquarie Capital to look for a buyer and international partner that can help to promote the new system and increase MWI’s financial firepower, according to people familiar with the matter. The company has begun talks with large automakers from South Korea and China, one of the people said.

MWI declined to comment.

Wiedeking and a group of other private investors own about 20 percent of MWI, which is controlled by its founders, Armin and Volker Gallatz.

“I am convinced that MWI is a disruptive innovation with a huge market potential,” Wiedeking was cited as saying in a document shared by MWI.

More efficient engine technology could keep traditional cars on the road for longer, shoring up industry profits as auto makers spend heavily to ramp up production of electric vehicles in coming years. Several manufacturers are still investing in better combustion engines.

MWI’s pitch is that it can be integrated into existing engine architecture rather than requiring an all-new approach.

By Eyk Henning and Christoph Rauwald

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