Quantumscape sees no widespread EV adoption without solid state

Firm may seek OEM partnerships as liquidity runway falls short of commercialisation target date

Quantumscape sees no widespread EV adoption without solid state
Quantumscape recently began its second round of prototype testing

The recently appointed CEO of US battery making challenger Quantumscape says that EV adoption will not penetrate mainstream consumers without commercial solid-state batteries at mass scale, as the firm reported its Q1 results.

Siva Sivaram, who has just finished his first quarter in charge of the firm, told analysts on the company's earnings call that automotive customers are "still uncomfortable with the EV value proposition" compared to ICE cars. The industry therefore has to to offer a battery solution that beats current options not only on range and charging speed, but also lifespan and cold weather performance.

Quantumscape's own solid-state prototype, the Alpha-2 cell, began shipments to customers in March. This marks the second of three typical prototype rounds, during which Sivaram says automotive customers are providing feedback on cell performance to Quantumscape.

With its second-stage prototype the firm is targeting approximately 800Wh/liter and 15-minute charge times from 10pc to 80pc capacity. 

"Today's lithium ion-based battery packs will not meet the customer needs on range, charging time, safety, or cycle life of the battery, even given the downward price pressure and marginal improvements being made by the industry," Sivaram says.

"It is unclear that there is a path with the current technology to make the leap from the early enthusiasts to more mainstream car buyers," the CEO adds.

Next steps

Sivaram also says that the company is anticipating full commercialisation and GWh scale production "sometime in that end of 2026, early 2027 period". This means, however, that the company will likely have to go to the markets again before commercial launch, as its liquidity of just over $1bn at the end of the quarter provides a cash runway only into the second half of 2026, according to CFO Kevin Hettrich.

The company may alternatively look to automotive OEM joint ventures as a source of funding, as Hettrich says the firm sees it as an opportunity to "benefit from the strength of the partner and reduced capex funded by Quantumscape".

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Funding is not the only challenge, though, CEO Sivaram says that Quantumscape's prototype differentiates itself in the solid-state field, and increased collaboration with OEMs promises a "prospective launch partner". But the firm still has "significant work ahead" on disciplined production execution.

Quantumscape recorded a net loss of $120.6mn for the quarter, and says that Ebit losses will increase quarter-by-quarter as protype volumes are ramped up. Hettrich, however, expects the company to see "benefits of larger-scale equipment and process maturity".

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