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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Yet another transportation startup plans to take the shortcut to an IPO and this time, it's a battery company.

What's happening: QuantumScape, a battery startup backed by Volkswagen and Bill Gates, said on Thursday it plans to go public through a reverse merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp.

Why it matters: The deal gives $700 million to QuantumScape to commercialize its promising solid-state batteries for electric vehicles.

  • The deal values the company at $3.3 billion.
  • It's the latest in a string of transactions in which venture-backed transportation startups merge with a publicly-traded shell entity called a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
  • EV companies Nikola, Canoo, Fisker and Lordstown Motors have gone public (or will soon) in this manner. Lidar manufacturers Velodyne and Luminar have, too.

The intrigue: QuantumScape's lithium-metal battery claims a much higher energy density than today's technology and uses a solid ceramic electrolyte that the company says is more stable than a conventional liquid electrolyte.

  • Instead of the conventional graphite/silicon anode, the battery uses a lithium-metal anode that translates to a much faster charging time.
  • Medium's Steve LeVine explains the significance of the breakthrough here.

What to watch: QuantumScape, a 10-year-old spinout from Stanford University, said it will form a joint venture with VW to produce solid-state battery cells, starting in 2024, for the German automaker's electric vehicles, and eventually for other carmakers, per Reuters.

  • A VW spokesman said the timeline is more likely five to 10 years.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Dec 8, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Toyota teases its first EV on new platform

Toyota yesterday offered a spare outline of an electric SUV it's developing for European markets.

Why it matters: It's slated to be the first vehicle made using Toyota's new e-TNGA platform.

Australia opposes UN report warning Great Barrier Reef is "in danger"

A green sea turtle swimming among the corals at Lady Elliot island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Great Barrier Reef should be included in a list of World Heritage Sites that are "in danger" from climate change, a United Nations committee said in a report Tuesday.

Yes, but: Australia's government said it will "strongly oppose" the recommendation by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: Abolishing filibuster would weaken "democracy's guardrails"

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) defended her opposition to abolishing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed published Monday night, saying to do so would weaken "democracy's guardrails."

Why it matters: There have been growing calls from Democrats, particularly progressives, to overhaul the rules as the Senate prepares to vote Tuesday on Democrats' massive voting rights package. But Sinema writes in her op-ed that if this were to happen "we will lose much more than we gain."