QuantumScape, which is developing solid-state lithium-metal batteries for electric vehicles, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Volkswagen Group of America to pick the location of the two companies’ joint-venture solid-state battery pilot-line facility by the end of this year. Both companies are eyeing Salzgitter, Germany, for the location.
SQ-1, as the pilot-line facility is known, is planned to become a 1-gigawatt hour (GWh) battery cell commercial production plant for electric vehicle batteries. (Very small.) The two companies plan to expand production capacity by a further 20 GWh at the same location.
Jagdeep Singh, CEO and co-founder of QuantumScape, shared his thoughts about the joint venture. “Our goal has been to bring our solid-state lithium-metal batteries to market as soon as possible,” said Singh. “This joint venture brings together QuantumScape’s core battery technology with Volkswagen’s deep understanding of high-volume, high-quality production, and maximizes our ability to bring this technology into industrial production.”
QS-1 will follow in the footsteps of QuantumScape’s planned pre-pilot line, QS-0, which will be housed in a facility recently secured in San Jose. The company also announced that it was doubling the initial QS-0 capacity to over 200,000 cells annually, which is enough for hundreds of test vehicles per year.
Back in March, QuantumScape announced an additional $100 million in funding from Volkswagen after it confirmed through tests at its labs in Germany that QuantumScape cells met the established technical milestone.
Back in February, Bloomberg Technology’s Taylor Riggs interviewed Singh on his company’s multi-layered solid-state lithium batteries. (We also interviewed Singh. See here.)
“In December, we announced the first single-layer solid-state batteries that the world has ever seen that actually meet some of the basic requirements of being commercially viable so being able to run at high enough rates of power, you mentioned the 15-minute charge rate very important to close the gap or narrow the gap between EVs and combustion engine-based vehicles.
“You know the energy density is higher so you can get to a longer range on a single charge. There are safety benefits, there are life benefits, economic benefits–so those are all demonstrated at the single layer level which is the building block of these cells, in December. And what we announced for the first time this week was a multi-layered version of those cells as you pointed out with that demonstration that we can actually scale up these sales, start to make bigger cells that can now be used in vehicles. So a very significant aspect.
“I mean, a lot more work to be done for sure in terms of completing the development of these multi-layer stacks and of course turning up the production factories which is going to require a few years, frankly. But, nonetheless, a very important milestone relative to the feasibility of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
In the interview, Singh also spoke about the importance of the partnership with Volkswagen.
“When you work on a new technology, there’s a couple of key problems you have. One, of course, is can the technology itself work? So we demonstrated that with the data we presented last month. But an equally important part of it does is does anybody care? You know, is there a customer that is excited enough about this new technology to where they’re willing to bet their product line on the technology?
“So VW took a bet really early. they partnered with us, I think back in 2012. So it’s been over eight years now. They’ve invested $300 plus million in the company. We’ve announced that we’re jointly building a manufacturing joint-venture to mass-produce these cells. You know, without that level of support, I don’t think it would have been as clear that this technology has the impact that it can’t have here.”
Singh also touched upon the challenges of when QuantumScape would see mass-producing of its cells become commercially available. He pointed out that this was one of the unfortunate realities of the automotive industry noting that the battery industry involved chemistry, and pointed out the fact that one needs to build factories to scale up production.
“Even though we have the core technology that’s been demonstrated and verified in the customer’s own labs, it’ll take us a couple of years to really complete the rest of the job and turn up factories to get into high volume production. We’re forecasting that this will actually be in production cars in the 24–25 time frame.”
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