VW-backed solid-state battery firm QuantumScape is going public

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by Kivi

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09.04.2020

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QuantumScape, the decade-old solid-state battery startup backed by Volkswagen, is going public.

This will be accomplished through a reverse merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp., with an enterprise value of approximately $3.3 billion, the startup said in a press release Thursday. Kensington is a special-purpose acquisition company—the same type of shell company that other automotive startups, including vehicle manufacturers Nikola, Fisker, and Canoo, have used in recent months.

Founded in 2010, QuantumScape is one of several entities looking to commercialize solid-state battery technology, so named because cells use a solid electrolyte, rather than the liquid used in current lithium-ion battery chemistry.

QuantumScape is developing a lithium-metal battery with a ceramic electrolyte that is nonflammable, making it safer than a conventional liquid electrolyte.

The startup also claims its lithium-metal anode will allow for a 80% charge in less than 15 minutes by eliminating a lithium diffusion bottleneck that occurs in conventional anodes, as well as increased energy density compared to lithium-ion batteries.

Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo concept

Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo concept

VW has been collaborating with QuantumScape since 2012, and announced an additional $200 million investment in June.

The company has been proving itself with VW for years, and VW considered putting some of the tech in production going back to 2015.

More recently, VW has said that it will offer solid-state batteries in some vehicles, on a limited basis, by the middle of the decade. But it didn’t say specifically that they would come from QuantumScape.

Among other automakers, Toyota says that they may arrive as soon as 2025. Earlier this year, an executive said prototypes were being tested in a “running concept vehicle.”

Longtime Toyota (and Tesla) partner Panasonic isn’t nearly as bullish, though. In 2018, the company’s North American chief executive said solid-state batteries were at least 10 years away.

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