Why It’s Now or Never With QuantumScape Stock

Stock Market

QuantumScape (NYSE:QS) has been teasing investors with the promise of solid-state batteries for years.

The San Jose company said it was close to production last year. Then CEO Jagdeep Singh said improvements would be needed first.

That message brought investors to QuantumScape from its founding in 2010. At one point, it was worth more than Ford Motor (NYSE:F) despite having no revenue. Both Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) and Qatar have invested in it.

But promises won’t work anymore.

The Posse Is Coming

Besides the fact that money now costs money, there’s the fact that the promise market is getting crowded.

Korea claims it has a better battery. China’s Nio (NYSE:NIO) is already testing a battery with over 600 miles of range. QuantumScape’s lithium metal design might be bypassed before it goes into production.

The biggest challenge comes from Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM), which says its solid-state battery will be in mass production by 2028. Consider that the industry’s deadline.

Solid batteries are the holy grail of green technology because liquid lithium-ion batteries can catch fire. They also degrade, they’re heavy, and their energy density is low. Electric vehicles (EV) from Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) are loaded with software because the driving range of lithium-ion is low and falls steadily.

The goal for QuantumScape and its challengers is a battery that can charge in under a half-hour and deliver 600 miles of range. That would make electric vehicles (EV) competitive with hybrids. As production ramps up, they could be cheaper, more reliable and take over the roads.

Such batteries are coming. The question is whether they will come from QuantumScape.

The Promise

In November, QuantumScape showed reporters what it had. The company said its solid electrolyte charges in 15 minutes and had triple the energy density of Tesla batteries. QS also claimed its design costs less to produce. In response, an analyst from Truist (NYSE:TFC) hiked the price target on the stock.

The problem is, we’ve heard this all before. QuantumScape burned through $350 million in cash over the last year without delivering a product. Full production could still be years away, writes our David Moadel. Don’t light your money on fire by investing, he said.

If QuantumScape has what it claims, Volkswagen can get it into competitive EVs quickly. The world’s auto industry is desperate for solid-state battery technology.

Do They Have It?

QuantumScape continues to insist it’s flush with cash and is investment-worthy. The company said its latest QSE-5 production runs have exceeded targets.

Sounds great, but then Singh says there’s more work to do. QuantumScape continues to run a race between its revolution and cash. Since higher interest rates make new investments harder to come by, the company now faces financial deadlines.

If QuantumScape can’t get something into production this year, perhaps it never will. That’s the way science works. Some paths lead to dead ends.

The Bottom Line

Our Thomas Niel believes this may be the year QuantumScape shocks the skeptics.

I hope he’s right.

Skeptics aren’t just coming for the battery promise but the whole EV industry. There are fewer buyers for cars that cost $40,000 and can’t deliver more than 200 miles of range.

The industry’s answer is to deliver cheaper goods. Several makers promise $ $25,000 cars by 2025. But those may be no better than today’s $40,000 models and could drive many makers under.

QuantumScape has been working on its design; however, scientists around the world have been working with new materials and production processes. Someone is going to solve this problem and reap the market.

My guess is QuantumScape’s odds of success are no better than 50-50. That’s still a speculation, not an investment. I would love to be wrong.

As of this writing, Dana Blankenhorn did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a financial and technology journalist since 1978. He is the author of Technology’s Big Bang: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with Moore’s Law, available at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at danablankenhorn@gmail.com, tweet him at @danablankenhorn, or subscribe to his free Substack newsletter.

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