Are Solid-State Batteries the 'Holy Grail' for EVs?

An illustration of an electric car plugged in to a charging station, on a green highway sign that says "Next"
Published On
Sep 29, 2020

QuantumScape Corp. claims to have found the “Holy Grail” for electric vehicles (EVs): employing solid-state battery cell technology to enable EVs to charge faster and run longer.

Jagdeep Singh, CEO of the San Jose, Calif.-based company, earlier this month told Marker magazine that its partner Volkswagen will use QuantumScape’s breakthrough technology to manufacture battery-powered vehicles using pure metallic lithium by 2025.

The claim is “a revolutionary battery breakthrough,” according to Marker.

“Even as researchers have managed to enable a massive lithium-ion economy of portable electronic devices, they have never gotten beyond inserting just a small few crumbs of the metal into the batteries powering iPhones, Tesla automobiles, and Chromebooks,” Marker writes.

“Pure lithium has remained the Holy Grail—the presumed best consumer battery possible using currently known principles and technology, but always out of reach since no one could figure out how to actually deploy the metal without the risk of fire,” Marker said.

QuantumScape’s solid-state battery cell technology has further advantages over the present lithium-ion technology, the 10-year-old company states on its website: higher energy density, enhanced safety and better fast-charging capability. Their batteries also take up significantly less space. A solid-state battery of the same size as a current battery package can achieve a range comparable to that of conventional gas-powered vehicles, the company claims.

“While the approach has a lot of promise, advances have been difficult to attain and no other battery supplier has been able to achieve automotive performance,” QuantumScape writes. “Volkswagen successfully tested QuantumScape early-stage solid-state battery sample cells in Germany running at automotive rates of power—an industry first.”

QuantumScape and Volkswagen previously announced a joint venture to enable industrial-level production of solid-state batteries for use in the car manufacturer’s vehicles.

That endeavor will be expedited by QuantumScape’s joint Sept. 3 announcement with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp., in which QuantumScape will merge with the Westbury, N.Y. special-purpose acquisition company—a shell company already listed on the New York Stock Exchange—enabling QuantumScape to become a publicly listed company upon the deal’s closing in the fourth quarter.

The transaction enables QuantumScape to raise more than $700 million in proceeds, including a $500 million fully committed private investment in public equity (PIPE) anchored by institutional investors including Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Boston, and Janus Henderson Investors, Kansas City, Mo. The transaction will result in more than $1 billion in cash and funding commitments, including QuantumScape’s Series F financing led by the Volkswagen Group and Qatar Investment Authority, Doha, Qatar.

“Today marks an important milestone of advancing QuantumScape’s effort in developing the next generation of solid-state batteries to meet the needs of all future electric vehicles as the world transitions to zero emissions,” Singh said. “The merger with Kensington and associated PIPE transaction allows us to fund our business plans to first production. We look forward to executing on continued product development and validation through to first revenue and what we believe will be significant growth thereafter.”

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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