The Volkswagen Group is pouring more money into the development of solid-state batteries, which are expected to propel electric vehicles in the future.
VW announced its increasing its stake in QuantumScape and making an additional investment of up to $200 million in the battery specialist. VW said the goal is to boost the joint development of solid-state battery technology, which ultimately is expected to significantly increase range and shorten charging times of electric vehicles.
“We are making technological progress with our partner QuantumScape. The additional investment will effectively strengthen and accelerate our joint development work,” said Thomas Schmall, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components, which has end-to-end responsibility for batteries.
The Volkswagen Group and QuantumScape, which is based in San Jose, California, have also been collaborating in a joint venture to enable industrial-level production of solid-state batteries for nearly two years.
“Volkswagen is taking e-mobility to the mainstream. A strong position in batteries is a decisive factor in this regard”, said Frank Blome, head of the Battery Cell business, Volkswagen Group Components.
“We are securing our global supply base with efficient producers, gradually building up manufacturing capacities and driving the development of cutting-edge solid-state battery technology. Our focus in this context is on long-term strategic partnerships,” Blome said.
Solid-state batteries are seen as the most promising technology for the next-but-one generation of e-mobility in which VW has made big investments in recent years as it moved to put the “Dieselgate” scandal behind it.
With the same size of a current battery pack, the solid-state battery could enable ranges for electric vehicles that are comparable to those for conventional drivetrains. Moreover, charging time could be significantly shortened, according to Volkswagen officials.
Engineers at MIT said solid-state batteries pack more power per pound and last longer, based on the long-sought goal of using pure lithium metal as one of the battery’s two electrodes. The solid-state batteries dispense with the liquid or polymer gel usually used as the electrolyte material between the battery’s two electrodes.
This allows lithium ions to travel back and forth during the charging and discharging cycles of the battery, and an all-solid version could be safer than liquid electrolytes, which have high volatility and have been the source of explosions in lithium batteries.
Closing of the new additional investment of up to $200 million and the associated increase of Volkswagen’s stake in QuantumScape is still subject to various conditions. The two partners formed a joint venture in 2018 to enable industrial-level production of solid-state batteries for Volkswagen and plan to set up a pilot plant, details of which will firmed up in the course of this year.