Volkswagen Invests in Battery Startup to Increase Edge in Electric Vehicle Market

Volkswagen has purchased a stake in battery development company QuantumScape Corp. to gain an edge over electric vehicle competitors like Tesla Motors Inc. and Nissan Motor Co.

Inside sources, who wished to remain anonymous, told Bloomberg News that Volkswagen purchased a five-percent share in the privately owned company located in San Jose with the option to increase the share. Sources also reported that Volkswagen is seriously contemplating the company’s new technology which would triple the driving range of its electric cars.

According to Bloomberg, QuantumScape is developing batteries that employ solid-state technology using solid electrolytes rather than the liquid electrolytes found in lithium-ion batteries. Benefits of solid state technology include fire resistance and increased energy storage capabilities.

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QuantumScape is a relatively unknown company whose minimal web presence leaves many questions unanswered. There are a few clear facts about the company, however, including its focus on providing “a new future through better energy storage,” which can be found on its website, and its plans to complete viability tests to ensure its technology is feasible for cars in mid-2015, which was reported to Bloomberg by inside sources.

Although Volkswagen is one of the largest automakers in the world, its electric car sales have yet to make a mark in the U.S. The adoption of this new technology may change that, however, which is one reason why Volkswagen’s Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn is so interested in pursuing it.

Winterkorn, who spoke on the new technology at Stanford University in early November, emphasized the importance of electro-chemistry advancements across all geographic locations and industries, but especially for car manufacturers for whom the technology holds a potential solution to one of the largest perceived downsides of electric vehicles — driving range.

“I see great potential in this new technology, possibly boosting the range to as much as 700 kilometers (430 miles),” Winterkorn said in his Nov. 6 speech at Stanford University.