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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.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record,

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.