QuantumScape makes a breakthrough in its battery tech — as race to create a solid-state battery heats up - The Average Joe

QuantumScape makes a breakthrough in its battery tech — as race to create a solid-state battery heats up

February 18, 2021

Backed by heavyweights like Bill Gates and Volkswagen, QuantumScape is looking to solve the electric vehicle industry’s billion-dollar problem — slow charging and short-ranged batteries.

On Feb. 17, QuantumScape announced a technological breakthrough of their battery tech in their quarterly earnings report — sending shares up over 13%.

Electric vehicle demand is about to explode…

From 1.7m EV sales in 2020 to 8.5m in 2025, a growth of 5x. If EV makers are going to meet demand, they’ll need a lot more EV car batteries. But a sudden increase in demand and supply chain issues are leading to a shortage in battery supplies…

  • The pandemic slowed down the global supply chain of sourcing and processing raw materials.
  • The number of companies that can produce a large volume of the high-quality chemicals needed to make lithium batteries are scarce.

But supply isn’t the only problem with these batteries. There are limitations with existing lithium batteries — they’re slow to charge and hold a short battery life…

The solution: solid-state batteries

Founded in 2010, QuantumScape is developing solid-state lithium batteries for electric cars. Compared to existing lithium batteries, solid-state batteries can charge faster and hold a longer range — enabling EVs to drive nearly double the distance on one charge.

In 2020, QuantumScape went public via SPAC, growing 13x before falling 65%. Astoundingly, the company is generating zero revenue, has yet to launch a product and is worth over $20b.

The company’s tech could be a game-changer but to get there, it must:

  • Achieve technological breakthroughs — building multilayered batteries and moving beyond the prototype stage.
  • Creating a reliable manufacturing line that is capable of large production volumes to meet customer demands.

Over the past 2 years, Volkswagen invested $300m in QuantumScape and committed to using its batteries — but only if it can meet production volumes at competitive pricing.

Industry experts don’t expect solid-state batteries to be widely available until 2030. That’s 7 years later than the expected 2023 timeline QuantumScape is forecasting.

So far, no solid-state battery developers have gone past the prototype stage…

For investors… Flawless execution required

Dozens of competitors are also racing to release their own solid-state battery…

  • Toyota is expected to release its own solid-state battery in 2021.
  • Ford and Hyundai invested in Solid Power, a solid-state battery startup — which expects commercial production in 2026.

To justify its valuation, QuantumScape will have to execute flawlessly, scale-up production and fend off dozens of competitors while developing a solid-state battery.