An Ultra-Secret Battery Startup Hints That It’s Blown Past Tesla — But Won’t Show the Goods

Experts question the claim by QuantumScape, backed by $500 million from Bill Gates, Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and VW

Steve LeVine
Marker
Published in
15 min readSep 21, 2020

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Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Early this month, QuantumScape, an ultra-secretive, $4.3 billion battery startup, startled the battery and electric vehicle communities with an announcement: In the fourth quarter, it would go public on the New York Stock Exchange. If everything went right, there would be the prospect of substantial profit for investors including VW and Bill Gates on some $500 million in bets on the company. That was on top of the transformation that the IPO would help bring about in the mass commercialization of EVs.

The surprising thing was that the whole thing rested on a still-uncertain matter: A blockbuster assertion by QuantumScape, not verified by outside scientists, that it was on a short path to a solid state EV battery using pure metallic lithium, a prized material that has been the subject of a decades-long global technology race.

Now, QuantumScape was out with a slide deck that said its battery would propel a mass-market EV about 90% further than conventional…

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Steve LeVine
Marker
Writer for

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.