Volkswagen Invests $100 Million in Solid-State Battery Firm QuantumScape

VW wants to get solid-state batteries into production by 2025.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen has finalized a deal to pour more money into California solid-state battery maker QuantumScape. VW will invest $100 million in the company and gain a seat on the QuantumScape board as a result of the deal.

Based in San Jose, California, QuantumScape was founded in 2010. Volkswagen began investing in the company in 2012 but now has considerably more leverage. In a press release announcing the completion of the deal, VW reiterated plans to set up a production line for solid-state batteries by 2025. The automaker and many of its competitors believe the technology could be a game changer for electric cars down the road.

Solid-state batteries replace the liquid electrolyte of conventional lithium-ion batteries with a solid material, hence the name. Proposed electrolytes for solid-state batteries are nonflammable, lowering the risk of fire compared to lithium-ion batteries. Proponents of solid-state batteries believe this creates greater energy density, meaning more electricity can be stored in a given space.

VW itself previously said solid-state batteries could increase the range of the current e-Golf to around 466 miles, compared to the 186 miles the car is currently rated at on the European testing cycle (the e-Golf gets 125 miles of range on the stricter U.S. testing cycle). Because of greater energy density, the extra wouldn't require a physically larger battery pack, Volkswagen has said.

Several other automakers have shown interest in solid-state batteries. BMW has partnered with Colorado-based Solid Power, and Toyota has said its first mass-market electric car will use solid-state batteries. Henrik Fisker has said the technology will allow his proposed EMotion electric car to achieve 500 miles of range. 

No company has developed commercial-grade solid-state batteries for a production electric car yet. It's important to remember that promising lab results don't always translate into a product that works in the real world.

Solid-state batteries or not, Volkswagen will launch a slew of new electric cars over the next few years. The family of I.D. concept cars is expected to go into production with the I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz expected to arrive in the U.S. in 2020 and 2022, respectively. VW plans to launch 50 all-electric models across multiple brands by 2025.

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