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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
Oct 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Amazon shows off its new Rivian electric delivery van

Screenshot of Amazon video about its electric vans.

Amazon has taken the wraps off the first electric delivery van developed with the Rivian, the EV startup slated to begin mass producing vehicles for the e-commerce giant.

Why it matters: It shows that Amazon is moving to turn its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 into concrete steps and technology deployment.

Barr appoints special counsel to continue investigating origins of Russia probe

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday he appointed veteran prosecutor John Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19 to continue investigating the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why it matters: It's an extra layer of protection for Durham to continue investigating possible misconduct by Obama-era intelligence officials past Joe Biden's inauguration as president.

17 mins ago - Podcasts

Nasdaq exec Jeff Thomas on new diversity rules for listed companies

The Nasdaq today said it will ask federal securities regulators to approve new rules that would require its listed companies to regularly report on the demographic diversity of their boards, and also comply with board diversity requirements.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Jeff Thomas, Nasdaq's senior VP of corporate services, to learn why Nasdaq is enacting this policy, the internal discussions that led to it and what happens to companies that don't comply.