Volkswagen Aims for Solid-State Battery Production by 2025

The automaker is increasing its stake in battery company QuantumScape.

byStephen Edelstein| UPDATED Jun 25, 2018 3:01 PM
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Volkswagen is increasing its stake in California battery company QuantumScape in order to accelerate the development of solid-state batteries, which proponents claim will offer performance superior to the lithium-ion batteries used in current electric cars. VW hopes to set up a solid-state battery production line by 2025.

The automaker began investing in QuantumScape in 2012, and now plans to pour another $100 million into the U.S. company's coffers, according to a Volkswagen press release. Axel Heinrich, Head of VW Group Research, will also take a seat on QuantumScape's board.

As the name implies, solid-state batteries replace the liquid electrolyte of lithium-ion batteries with a solid material. Proponents claim this offers greater potential energy density, meaning more electricity can be stored in a given space. Volkswagen predicts that solid-state batteries could increase the range of the current e-Golf to around 750 kilometers (466 miles), up from the 300 km (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).

VW claims a solid-state battery pack wouldn't have to be bigger than current lithium-ion battery packs to achieve that kind of range increase. Unlike the liquid lithium-ion electrolyte, the solid electrolyte is also nonflammable. But while Volkswagen claims to have tested QuantumScape batteries "at automotive rates of power," no supplier has developed a commercial-grade version of those batteries suitable for use in production electric cars yet.

Not that companies aren't trying. BMW has partnered with Colorado-based Solid Power to develop solid-state batteries. Fisker claims this new technology will give its EMotion electric car 500 miles of range. Toyota plans to use solid-state batteries in its first mass-market electric car.

While VW aims to start solid-state battery production by 2025, the automaker isn't waiting that long to launch a wave of electric cars. A family of models based on VW's recent I.D. concepts will appear over the next few years, with the U.S. slated to get the I.D. Crozz crossover and Microbus-tribute I.D. Buzz in 2020 and 2022, respectively. Volkswagen plans to launch 50 all-electric models across multiple brands by 2025.