QuantumScape has tested the latest solid-state battery cells in its laboratories in Germany. It is a milestone for the company, as it fulfilled the requirement for Volkswagen AG to invest another $100Mn.
VW had announced the $200 million (170 million euro) investment last June reportedly, but only disbursed the first tranche at the time. This brings Volkswagen’s total investment in QuantumScape to date to $300 million (255 million euros).
“We are pleased to report that the QuantumScape cells met the technical milestones in our labs in Germany that we had previously agreed upon,” said Frank Blome, head of the Volkswagen Group’s Center of Excellence Battery Cell. “Achievement of this milestone is an important step for QuantumScape, and we look forward to receiving and testing subsequent generations of cells to get solid-state technology into series production.”
Neither Blome nor QuantumScape specifies what constitutes these “technical milestones”. The solid-state battery specialist published performance data of prototype cells for the first time last December, claiming to improve the range offered by 80 per cent compared to current lithium-ion cells. The Californians also said the cells would enable 80 per cent charges in 15 minutes and over 80 per cent remaining battery capacity after 800 cycles. The battery allegedly also covers a temperature range dropping as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
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QuantumScape’s prototype cells are single-layer pouch cells with “thick cathodes” (>3mAh/cm2), constructed analogously to conventional batteries’ cathodes. Whether these cells were the same tested for VW was not announced officially but is likely.
In February, QuantumScape had announced the construction of a pilot plant called QS-0 in San José, California. A few days ago, the company also issued 13 million new shares as reported. At the time, the announcement to the SEC included plans for a second pilot plant named QS-1 to be built together with VW. The planned capacity is one GWh with an expansion to 21 GWh for series production. The site of the second battery cell plant is unknown at this time.
Volkswagen had announced plans for a unified battery cell format in 80 per cent of its electric vehicles by 2030 at the ‘Power Day’ in March. The prismatic cell can host different cell chemistries (LFP, NMC and high-manganese cathodes) adapted to the specific vehicle. At the time, Blome described solid-state batteries as the ultimate goal and targeted a charge time of “just 12 minutes” for an 80 per cent charge. Blome added that QuantumScape had managed the proof-of-concept but has yet to overcome hurdles on the way to industrialisation.
Volkswagen and QuantumScape have been working together since 2012; prior to a 100-million dollar investment in 2018, VW already held five per cent of QuantumScape. Adding the recent 200 million dollars, VW has since become the largest automotive shareholder of the battery specialist, a spin-off from Stanford University.
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