Electric Cars: Volkswagen Takes On Tesla

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Electric cars are still a relatively new market without a lot of competition. For the past few years, all the buzz has surrounded Elon Musk's Tesla Motors. Now Volkswagen wants in on it.

Bloomberg is reporting that Volkswagen has bought a five percent stake in QuantumScape Corp., a company working on batteries for electric cars. Volkswagen wants to put these batteries into cars by mid-2015 and feels that they'll provide two benefits over current electric cars. The first is that these new batteries will triple the charge, and therefore the distance that can be traveled before having to recharge. The second is that these batteries are supposedly fireproof so we won't be hearing any stories of cars catching on fire.

So, how will these new batteries achieve Volkswagen's desired results? It's all about the technology. In current electric cars, the batteries use what's called liquid electrolytes. You can compare it to the kind of technology found in smartphone batteries. QuantumScape is experimenting with batteries made out of solid electrolytes. The big benefit to using solid over liquid is that it won't catch on fire, but some believe that this technology can also hold more power as well.

Volkswagen may only have a five percent stake in the company at this point, but that could change if disruptive technology emerges within the next few years. As you can imagine, Volkswagen wants to be the top luxury car maker in all categories. At the moment, Tesla is the leader of the electric car market. If Volkswagen and QuantumScape can figure out how to increase battery storage, Tesla could have its first real competition since introducing the Tesla Roadster in 2006.

If you want to see Volkswagen's current work in electric cars, check out this feature from Focus Magazine: