Electromobility companies are going public at a pace that recalls the dot-com frenzy of the 1990s. Yes, history will probably repeat itself to a certain extent—some of these firms will go belly-up, but others will eventually grow into successful and influential players.
One that seems particularly promising is QuantumScape, a California developer of solid-state lithium-metal batteries that was founded in 2010. The company, which is now trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol QS, has attracted an outsize amount of attention thanks to its influential supporters. Volkswagen has invested $300 million in the company, and Tesla co-founder JB Straubel has joined its board. Other backers include Bill Gates’ investment fund, Chinese automaker SAIC, Tier 1 auto supplier Continental, and several major VCs.
The proceeds of the SPAC transaction were about $680 million, which is expected to fully support the company through the start of production in the second half of 2024.
QuantumScape’s batteries use a unique anode-less design quite different from that used in today’s lithium-ion technology, and the company claims they will deliver improvements in all the most important performance aspects:
- Eliminating graphite/silicon anode host material could increase specific energy (gravimetric energy density) to as much as 400 or 500 Wh/kg.
- Eliminating the lithium diffusion bottleneck in anode host material could enable faster charging (0 to 80% in under 15 minutes).
- Eliminating capacity loss at the anode interface could extend battery life.
- The solid-state separator is nonflammable and noncombustible.
- Eliminating the anode host material could reduce manufacturing costs.
“QuantumScape’s solid-state anode-less design represents the most elegant architecture I’ve seen for a lithium-based battery system, and the company has an opportunity to redefine the battery landscape,” said JB Straubel, who knows whereof he speaks, having tested just about every battery cell technology out there during his tenure at Tesla.
For Electrek’s Fred Lambert, Straubel’s involvement was enough to convince him to invest in QS shares: “I believe he is one of the most knowledgeable persons in the world when it comes to batteries, and he is perfectly aware that prototypes don’t mean anything if you can’t bring them to mass production. If their technology is as good as they claim, they won’t have any issue finding buyers, but already having Volkswagen as an early customer is going to facilitate the production ramp.”
Going public “marks a big step in the evolution of our company,” said founder and CEO Jagdeep Singh. “This transaction allows QuantumScape to fund development and commercialization of our OEM-validated battery technology as we look forward to playing our part in the electrification of the automotive powertrain.”