Volkswagen (VW) has bought a chunk of battery startup QuantumScape Corp, and those close to the deal say that the aim is an electric vehicle battery with 3 times the range (presumably, for the same cost).
Talk is bold in the battery startup space, and numerous startups (as well as large companies) have been aiming for big improvements in range/$ for years. So, I’m not jumping with joy yet. However, it’s yet another startup with big aspirations and investment from a large auto manufacturer, which I think is only a good sign.
“VW is considering using the energy-storage technology, which is fireproof, for vehicles from the namesake brand as well as Porsche and Audi, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private,” Bloomberg writes. “Tests to show the system is viable for cars are due to be completed in mid-2015, they said. The VW of America unit bought a 5 percent holding and has options to raise the stake, one of the people said.”
Who is letting the cat out of the bag, and is this information reliable or fluff? We’ll have to wait to find out about the latter, and who knows about the former?
Reportedly, Tesla Motors has batteries using Panasonic cells that outcompete anyone else in the field by a wide margin, and the aim of the Gigafactory is to bring costs down 30% more by 2017, but there’s always the possibility that someone will leap ahead. As the second-largest automaker in the world, that could certainly be Volkswagen.
Notably, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen’s head of powertrain development, recently said that affordable electric cars with 300+ miles of range aren’t very far off. “I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers (430 miles),” VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said at Stanford University in California in early November. With these statements in mind, I think the claims related to QuantumScape Corp seem a little more believable.
Interestingly, QuantumScape Corp’s batteries are solid-state batteries. I think pretty much everybody in this battery arena agrees that solid-state batteries will eventually replace the batteries in use now, but I think every comment I’ve seen is that they are approximately a decade or more out from commercial production. Perhaps QuantumScape Corp knows something most others don’t.
Bloomberg adds: “QuantumScape, founded in 2010 by former Stanford University researchers, has 12 job openings, according to a LinkedIn profile for the company. In the job listings, QuantumScape says it’s ‘working on a fundamental disruption in the field of energy storage.’ ”
Image via QuantumScape Corp website.