QuantumScape (QS) Q2 2023: Higher energy cells delivered, potential launch partner, and 15-minute fast charges

Solid-state battery developer QuantumScape has recently shared its Q2 2023 report, offering several updates on its progress toward reaching commercialization – particularly in the EV segment. The company is reporting stellar milestones including a shipment of high cathode-loading cells to automotive partners as well as details of a potential customer chosen for an official launch of its first product.

QuantumScape ($QS) is an advanced battery technology company with well over a decade’s worth of experience developing (hopefully) scalable, ultra energy-dense solid-state battery cells that can one day achieve cost parity with traditional lithium-ion cells popular in current EV models.

Despite its tenure in the nascent, holy-grail space of solid-state cells, the company didn’t truly start making believers out of us until 2020, when it announced it had reached a “major breakthrough” by utilizing a proprietary ceramic separator. This led to single-layer prototype cell testing, followed by 10-layer cells, then 16-layer prototypes.

By Q2 of 2022, QuantumScape had expanded its technology to energy-dense, 24-layer cells, ripe for vigorous internal testing. These Sample-A cells, represented the beginning of a three-step journey (A, B, and C) toward automotive qualification and eventual production.

Last December of 2022, QuantumScape began delivering the first 24-layer A0 prototype cells to automotive partners for them to test themselves and by Q1 of 2023, testing had been completed by at least one unnamed EV OEM.

At that same time, QuantumScape shared that its first commercial solid-state product will be an ~5 Ah cell called QSE-5. According to its Q2 2023 report, QuantumScape shared it is now shipping those prototype cells to partners as well.

QuantumScape Q2
Credit: QuantumScape

QuantumScape remains on track in Q2

The solid-state specialist outlined details of its progress the past three months in a letter to shareholders expressing optimism and progress toward core goals previously outlined. One of which was to increase the cathode-loading capabilities of its cells which enables higher cell energy within the same design footprint.

These advanced cathodes, bolstered by anode-free lithium-metal technology, offer loading that is greater than 5 mAh/cm² – significantly higher than cathodes QS has previously shipped to customers (~3.1 mAh/cm²), and still capable of storing more energy than 2170 cells used in some of the longest range EVs on the current market (~4.3 mAh/cm²). See chart above.

In its Q2 report, QuantumScape confirmed that it has already shipped these new high cathode-loading cells to multiple automotive partners, remaining on track in its development timelines. Combined with the aforementioned 24-layer prototype cells, QuantumScape believes it can soon deliver “industry-leading energy and power performance,” and its latest shipment validates that.

Credit: QuantumScape

One of those partners that is currently testing the prototype cells may end up being the first OEM to commercially launch the company’s flagship QSE-5 in an EV. The Q2 2023 report states that QuantumScape is already in cahoots with a prospective launch partner in the automotive sector. QS says it is working with this mystery partner to bring its technology to the EV market ASAP.

When QSE-5 does hit the EV market donning someone’s badge, QuantumScape is anticipating some decent charge rates. The battery developer had previously targeted a 10-80% fast charge in 15 minute, and reported that it has successfully demonstrated it (see chart above). Here are some additional updates from QuantumScape’s Q2 report:

  • The A0 prototype cells successfully passed all safety tests with a hazard levels of 3 or lower as defined by EUCAR and SAE J2464 standards, including nail penetration, overcharge, external short circuit, and thermal stability testing up to 300°C.
  • QS’ previously laid out plans to implement a fast separator heat-treatment process in manufacturing will roll out in two phases – Raptor and Cobra (I love these names).
    • Raptor is already complete and introduces a step-change process allowing continuous flow heat treatment to process the separator films faster with less total heat energy exerted.
    • Raptor is expected to support B0 prototype cell production samples in 2024, and QS expects initial qualifying production to begin before the end of 2023.
    • Cobra will build off Raptor and add even faster processing – particularly in the cell’s ceramics.
    • QuantumScape see’s Cobra as a potential game changer in scaled manufacturing and is currently operating prototypes before an initial production system is implemented on the QS-0 assembly line for B-sample cells.

QuantumScape ended Q2 2023 with over $900 million in liquidity and believes it has enough runway to continue development into the second half of 2025. That’s all for now – until next quarter!

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