Battery maker QuantumScape names chip veteran as CEO

DETROIT: QuantumScape Corp., the solid-state battery maker that counts Volkswagen AG as its biggest shareholder, said chief executive officer Jagdeep Singh is stepping down after 13 years.

Siva Sivaram, a semiconductor industry veteran who joined QuantumScape in September, will take over as CEO in a move the two executives said has been in the making for nearly a year.

Jagdeep is the largest individual shareholder in the San Jose, California-based company and will remain chairman.

Relinquishing his role as CEO means he has to let go of a target-linked compensation package that could have got him as much as US$2.3 billion (RM11bil) in stock options.

Siva (left) and Jagdeep.
Siva (left) and Jagdeep.

"You have to at some point take a hard look at what you are good at and whether you’re the best person to take something into the next phase,” Jagdeep said in an interview with Bloomberg.

He added that Siva, who was previously president of data-storage firm Western Digital Corp., has the experience of taking complex technologies to high-volume production.

Solid-state cells, a breakthrough that has eluded battery researchers for decades, could make electric-vehicle batteries safer, smaller and faster-charging.

There are a handful of startups that show promise, but few startups have been able to go from battery prototype to high-volume manufacturing.

Quantumscape solid state batts

QuantumScape, which was spun out of Stanford University in 2010 and went public in a blank-cheque merger a decade later, has been through several manufacturing leaders as it struggles to turn its solid-state technology into a scalable manufacturing process that could produce automotive-grade cells for EVs.

Jagdeep said the target remains to get to high-volume production of those cells by 2026.

While QuantumScape’s shares are down significantly from their 2020 peak, they gained 23% last year and are up in 2024, buoyed by progress in cell development that was recently touted by Volkswagen.

QuantumScape raised about US$300 million in a share sale in August, and has about US$1 billion in cash on hand, enough to fund its operations into 2026, said Jagdeep.