Volkswagen Invests $100 Million In Solid-State Battery Start-Up QuantumScape

JUN 23 2018 BY MARK KANE 19

Volkswagen announced a major investment in Stanford spin-off QuantumScape Corporation, which has deep expertise in solid-state battery technology

Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion

QuantumScape was formed in 2010 and Volkswagen was one of the first companies to collaborate closely on the topic (since 2012).

Now, with a $100 million investment, Volkswagen becomes the largest automotive shareholder and takes a seat on the board of QuantumScape.

Additionally, Volkswagen and QuantumScape will launch a new joint venture for industrial level of production.

The main goals are development of the solid-state batteries that could enable to offer better electric cars, and to establish a production line for solid-state batteries by 2025.

From the timeframe – 7 years from now – we clearly see that the solid-state batteries at best could enter the game after the first batch of the next-generation electric Volkswagens, built on the MEB platform.

In the press release, the German manufacturer praises solid-state batteries for improved performance. The range of e-Golf could more than double from 300 km (186 miles) to 750 km (466 miles) under the NEDC cycle if the new batteries were applied.

More in the press release:

By increasing its stake in the California technology company QuantumScape Corporation and forming a new joint venture, Volkswagen Group is paving the way for the next level of battery power for long-range e-mobility. Dr. Axel Heinrich, Head of VW Group Research, who will take a seat on the board of directors of QuantumScape, says: “We want to accelerate the commercialization of QuantumScape’s solid-state batteries. And we combine forces to leverage Volkswagen’s experience as a production specialist and QuantumScape technology leadership. Volkswagen is thus taking another step toward a sustainable, zero emission mobility for our customers in the future.” Volkswagen will invest 100m USD in US-based QuantumScape and will become the innovative enterprise’s largest automotive shareholder. Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Since 2012, Volkswagen Group Research has already been collaborating closely with the Stanford spin-off.  Based on the significant technical progress that this cooperation has made, QuantumScape and Volkswagen will work together within a newly formed joint venture with the aim to enable an industrial level of production of solid-state batteries. One of the long-term targets is to establish a production line for solid-state batteries by 2025.

“Volkswagen is the world’s largest automotive manufacturer and leads the industry in its commitment to electrification of its fleet,” says Jagdeep Singh, CEO of QuantumScape. “We are thrilled to be chosen by Volkswagen to power this transition.  We think the higher range, faster charge times, and inherent safety of QuantumScape’s solid-state technology will be a key enabler for the next generation of electrified powertrains.”

Founded in 2010, QuantumScape is headquartered in San José, California and holds approximately 200 patents and patent applications for solid-state battery technology. Its deep expertise makes the company a leading pioneer in the development of this form of energy storage. “The solid-state battery will mark a turning point for e-mobility”, says Axel Heinrich of Volkswagen Group. “By increasing our stake in QuantumScape and forming the joint venture we strengthen and deepen our strategic cooperation with an innovative partner and secure access to the promising QuantumScape battery technology for Volkswagen.”

Solid-state battery cell technology is seen as the most promising approach for the e-mobility of the future. For example, a solid-state battery would increase the range of the E-Golf to approximately 750 kilometers compared with the present 300 kilometers. This battery technology has further advantages over the present lithium-ion technology: higher energy density, enhanced safety, better fast charging capability and – above all – they 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 vehicles.  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. Volkswagen successfully tested QuantumScape early-stage solid-state battery sample cells in Germany running at automotive rates of power—an industry first.”

Categories: Battery Tech, Volkswagen

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19 Comments on "Volkswagen Invests $100 Million In Solid-State Battery Start-Up QuantumScape"

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Bring em on!

That’s almost as much money as Dyson spent on Sakti3 that also was supposedly close to commercial solid state. That turned out to be money down the tube, let’s see if VW fares better with this Quantumscape investment.

Solid state, many have tried, many have failed….

They said they already tested them at car-levels of power so I’m hopeful

That’s certainly a step in the right direction. But that alone doesn’t speak to affordability or longevity. That doesn’t even speak to the practicality of mass producing them.

Yeah, and I find that strange.
We bought solid state battery test cells (mostly pouch cells) from the US, Canada and at least one Asian country . . . and that was over 13-14 years ago. They were working fine.
I even got one that I used when I constructed a solar lantern, to compare it to a lantern I made with a Nokia lithium battery, and a NiMH battery.
I can not recall the energy density they had, or what they cost (since I did not pay for them) – but this is a long time ago.
The way I see it, either it is too expensive, they use some exotic materials, or they are not energy dense enough. At least it HAVE to be really hard to automate the production process. Just the fact that it is solid state batteries would be enough to sell a certain amount for special applications.

The university bought test cells from other universities and compnies. 13-14 years is a long time to develop and industrialise a product.
I would have liked real answers from these universities and companies about what the problem really is.
Has it to do with patents? They last long, as tested in my solar lantern (that still works). Is it so hard to automate? Could they make larger test batches manually – just to test the cells and to prove they can do it.
Even if it is expensive, I’m sure some companies would pay extra to be the first with a SS battery.

By the looks of it, we’ll have to wait a few more years before this is for sale.
I’m sure the first company that can make it, and proove it – will milk this for publisity.

That’s a lot of press release from a company that seriously defrauded the EPA, governments and consumers on several continents. Volkswagen and all major German car companies have been found guilty as charged in willful deceit, blatant coverups and a carefully organized program of installing defeat devices on millions of cars purchased by the public. Insult to injury was the German government becoming complicit in the avoidance of third party testing and non enforcement nor punishment once these international crimes were brought out into the light of public view. This is all well and explicitly documented. I hate conspiracy theories when they sound and smell questionable. I do take notice, however, when publications post declarations by companies like Volkswagen and suggest we take them for face value. Under prosecution VW has made bold promises to make amends for their dirty works, I’ll come from Missouri on thus one. Texaco bought the rights to NIMH battery technology for a handsome fee back when that was the state if the art and shelved it to protect their profits. Buying majority or controlling stakes in companies sprouting disruptive tech is one effective way to suppress it. This is not new. Do you buy… Read more »
Attempts to suppress an economically advantageous tech rarely work well, or for long. Chevron did buy out a patent for large-format NiMH battery cells, but that didn’t prevent auto makers from putting them into their BEVs (the GM EV1) or PHEVs. Yes, there are valid reason to have serious doubts about VW’s claims regarding EVs, especially because of the almost unending stream of EV vaporware claims they’ve issued over the past couple of decades. But VW isn’t run by cartoonish, mustache-twirling, melodrama villains. Dieselgate wasn’t a result of VW execs sitting around cackling evilly as they plotted to make cars which produce far more pollution than they claimed. The widespread emissions fraud — and let’s remember that VW wasn’t the only auto maker guilty of that fraud — was a result of government regulations on diesel emissions which were difficult or impossible to implement in a car which could still be competitive in the market. As a corporate culture, VW realizes that EVs are the wave of the future, and that sooner or later, they are going to have to jump aboard the EV bandwagon or watch their sales dwindle to a tiny fraction of what they are now. From… Read more »

Looks like the race for commercial solid state batteries is heating up! 🙂

… but it also looks like we probably won’t see them in EVs for several years yet. 🙁

Hi PP,

Do you earnestly feel we should be optimistic that one of the richest and debatably most corrupt automobile companies on the planet, infamous for maliciously premedititively defrauding and polluting us …should now be believed in good standing, even lauded for buying a controlling stake in a major player possessing proprietary patents and technology in the solid state battery arena?

Did you not listen to the late Dr. Stan Ovshinsky, the father of NIMH batteries educate us in the Chris Paine documentary, Who Killed The Electric Car? – how corporations with much to lose buy such tech to control it? To shelve it. Just as Texaco did in its extensive investments in NIMH patents?

I certainly think VW should be lauded for making a major investment in the development of advanced batteries. Yes, absolutely. Refusing to do so would be, as they say, cutting off your nose to spite your face.

If we all refused to buy a car from any company which has ever done a dishonest thing, then we’d eventually wind up having to buy from some off brand like Geely. If you personally choose to never even consider buying from VW because of Dieselgate, that is certainly your right to make that choice. It’s also the right of others to make different choices.

I don’t advise “Forgive and forget”, but rather “Forgive and remember.” Let’s not forget VW’s transgressions, but let us also not just assume that they’re never going to do the right thing.

If someone can crack the code and build an affordable solid state battery, they could really run away with the EV market. But until then, Li-Ion will be king.

Solid state batteries don’t necessarily mean the end of li-ion batteries. Ionic Materials’ prototype “plastic battery”, described by some as a solid-state battery, is still a li-ion battery. It just uses a polymer electrolyte rather than a liquid one.

Indeed, “solid state” only describes a specific physical property of the materials used. (In particular the electrolyte, since everything else is already solid state in most existing types of batteries.) “Solid state” is thus a very broad term, that could entail batteries with any number of chemistries. While there are occasional mentions of other types (most often sodium ion), the majority of the hype around “solid state” batteries seems to be as a promising path towards lithium metal anodes for Li-Ion batteries.

(It’s not the only possible path, though. Elon Musk actually mentioned at the recent Tesla shareholders meeting that he sees lithium metal anodes in use in some six or seven years from now; while he didn’t mention “solid state” at all…)

Achieving broadly usable solid state batteries — like pretty much all battery research — is likely to come from a long succession of gradual improvements, rather than some isolated large breakthrough. They will first appear in niche applications (indeed at least one maker claims they are already supplying small amounts for aerial drones), and then slowly trickle down to other applications, as they gradually become more robust and affordable. By the time they reach the mass market, there will likely be a whole battalion of solid state battery makers fighting for minor advantages — just like we have today around established battery types. It’s not likely anyone will “run away with the market”.

Exactly. We will know they are close in cars when they first start appearing in mobile phones and power tools where the few extra $ they cost will be well worth it for the additional capacity and rapid charging.

On the other hand, the money is in car batteries, so I can also imagine the auto industry driving the development of solid state.

“…the money is in car batteries…”

Is it? I doubt it is, or that it will be for at least a few more years. As of a couple of years ago, the consumer electronics market for li-ion batteries was about twice that of the automotive market.

The consumer electronics battery market has been stagnant for years though (small increases in volume eaten up by falling prices), while EV battery volumes are rising faster even than prices are falling. I’d guess in a year or two, EV battery revenues will overtake consumer electronics.

Having said that, the real issue is not “where the money is”, but rather price sensibility. Because of the large sizes, price is by far the dominant factor in EV batteries. Even with better energy density, solid state batteries won’t see use outside of some low-volume premium EVs, as long as they are significantly more expensive.