Anode-free solid-state battery startup goes public

Market news |
By Nick Flaherty

The solid-state battery maker is backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and car maker Volkswagen (VW) and says it plans to go public through a reverse merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition with an enterprise value of $3.3bn.

In 2018, QuantumScape and Volkswagen announced the formation of a joint manufacturing venture to prepare for the mass production of solid-state batteries. The joint venture with VW will produce solid-state battery cells, starting in 2024, for VW’s electric vehicles, and eventually for other carmakers. “Our ambition is to be a (battery) supplier to the industry as a whole,” said Jagdeep Singh, CEO and founder of QuantumScape.

QuantumScape’s solid state battery technology uses a solid ceramic electrolyte, which is thought to be safer than lithium batteries using a conventional liquid electrolyte. It also eliminates the need for an anode, allowing the battery to charge more quickly – up to 80% capacity in just 15 minutes.

Also, says the company, the energy density of its batteries is much higher, exceeding 400 watt-hours per kilogram, which far surpasses the 250 Wh/kg of the best current lithium-ion batteries, enabling vehicles to travel farther with the same size battery pack.

Justin Mirro, chairman and CEO of Kensington, adds, “We’ve done a lot of work on the technology. This is really a revolutionary step in terms of technology.”

Mirro, formerly an automotive engineer for General Motors and Toyota Motor before becoming an investment banker, formed Kensington Capital Partners in 1999 and will be a board member of the combined company. Other investors in QuantumScape include German auto supplier Continental, Chinese automaker SAIC Motor, and several venture capitalist firms.

The deal is expected to close in late 2020, when the new company will trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “QS.”


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