A battery startup backed by Bill Gates and Volkswagen says its cells can charge in half the time of Tesla’s Model 3

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QuantumScape CEO Jagdeep Singh. QuantumScape
  • QuantumScape says it’s made a solid-state battery cell that is more powerful than those used by Tesla and others.
  • The batteries can also charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes, while remaining efficient in cold weather, the company says.
  • The Tesla cofounder JB Straubel described the news as a “game-changer” assuming QuantumScape can manufacture the batteries at scale.
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QuantumScape, one of the newest entrants to the red-hot electric-vehicle industry, could have one big leg up on Tesla.

The company backed by Bill Gates and Volkswagen said Tuesday that its solid-state battery could charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes, or about half of the time required for Tesla’s newest Superchargers. The company also said its cells worked in colder temperatures, lasted longer, and didn’t require lithium on the anode — which can reduce efficiency — because they technically didn’t have an anode.

“Seeing these performance numbers is almost unheard-of: Roughly 50% improvement in volumetric energy density is incredible when we are used to seeing single-digit-per cent per year, and that was hard to achieve and a great outcome,” the Tesla cofounder JB Straubel said at a press conference hosted by QuantumScape. “Jumping to something like 50% is game-changing.”

The company will next have to prove it can manufacture the new batteries at scale, however, something Tesla CEO Elon Musk can attest is not easy. If the startup is successful, it could play a pivotal role in solving a decades-long problem in batteries that’s currently seen as the biggest barrier to reduced prices and widespread adoption.

QuantumScape went public earlier this year amid a spate of electric-vehicle reverse mergers, raising $US700 million in the process. Its shares have more than doubled since the stock began trading November 27, including a 52% surge since Tuesday’s event.

“We believe that the performance data we’ve unveiled today shows that solid-state batteries have the potential to narrow the gap between electric vehicles and internal combustion vehicles and help enable EVs to become the world’s dominant form of transportation,” CEO Jagdeep Singh said in a press release.

“Lithium-ion provided an important stepping-stone to power the first generation of EVs. We believe QuantumScape’s lithium-metal solid-state battery technology opens the automotive industry up to the next-generation battery and creates a foundation for the transition to a more fully electrified automotive fleet.”