Given the tense environment surrounding EVs, I’m not going to reveal how I really feel about QuantumScape (NYSE:QS) stock.
Electric vehicles are the future, period, and may you rot in perdition if you believe otherwise (at least that’s what the popular mantra is these days). By those lights, I should say that QS stock is awesome and it’s going to the moon.
Maybe I even believe that, but let’s just say that I have some questions.
As it turns out, some of my InvestorPlace colleagues have questions too, because there’s not one clear answer here. On the somewhat bullish end of the spectrum, we have Chris Tyler, who noted the upside potential of QS stock. To be fair, though, Tyler sees significant volatility risk and recommends advanced trading tactics to mitigate it.
On the other, more decidedly bearish end, we have Chris Lau. He suggests that readers should sell QS stock at any opportunity.
While I’m sure he’s impressed with at least the concept of QuantumScape’s solid-state battery, he also counters that the competition is already moving in. QS is at this point an aspirational investment, and there’s no telling when it will turn into a practical one.
Which one has the more accurate take? Let’s try to find out.
Wagering on QS Stock for Its Transformative Potential
In the battle of the Chrises, Tyler mentioned in early May that QuantumScape believes that it essentially has the Jesus battery:
Do you believe in the Jesus battery? QuantumScape believes it’s in their grasps and they’re not alone. Auto giant Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) visionary and investment savvy Bill Gates are among those with financial stakes in the outfit’s mission to radically change electric vehicle (EV) battery technology as we know it.
As Tyler further notes, “QuantumScape’s end game is to use its next-generation, higher energy density solid-state quantum lithium-metal battery to increase an EV’s driving range by as much as 50% while being able to juice up in less than 15 minutes.”
Higher energy density is really the name of the game here. Back in late November last year, I went through the science underlining QS stock. To a point, I wholeheartedly agree with QuantumScape’s biggest advocates.
If what the company purports is true, solid-state batteries could change the paradigm: EV batteries would be smaller, cheaper and more efficient. In turn, this would catapult tremendous end-user conveniences.
But “if” is the tricky word here and “if” is what makes QS stock so contentious. It’s interesting that Tyler mentioned the phrase Jesus battery.
I guess you have to have faith.
QuantumScape Faces a Tough Reality
Of course, back when QS stock was at the brewing epicenter of crazy special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), there was plenty of faith to go around. People believed that QuantumScape was about to deliver the groundbreaking result we needed to see EVs truly go mainstream.
But faith without results is one of the reasons why people lose it. I think many if not most of us have had the experience of praying desperately for something only to be that much more disappointed.
Well, imagine that deep sense of betrayal but for something with far less stakes such as a stock market wager. Lau did, and he hit it on the head:
QuantumScape forecast higher spending on operations. It forecasted expenses between $260 million and $320 million for the full year 2021. Its development activities and higher capacity QS-0 line needs more support. Though QS touted its over $1.3 billion in liquidity, this is at the shareholder’s expense. The company has no revenue for the next few years. Therefore, markets will eventually lose interest in waiting for the company to deliver next-generation battery technology.
Many times, people comfort those whose prayer goes unanswered by saying God works in mysterious ways. I hate to say it but that well-intentioned sentiment won’t work with QS stock (or any equity unit). Investors will simply dump out.
It’s just human nature. In a recent Gallup poll, “47% of U.S. adults belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque” in 2020. This is the first time that faith-based organizational membership fell below the majority. If people aren’t getting the promised results, they’re going to look elsewhere.
Look, the reality is that extended pain causes people to lose heart. With QS stock, it’s no surprise that people exited in the absence of the promised game-changing product.
Time to Deliver or Fade Away
Interestingly, I see some of the same arguments supporting EVs and a broader electrified future from my time as an indoctrinated subject of American evangelicalism. For instance, everybody knows that infrastructure development represents a major challenge for EV integration.
Let’s just say that my conversion rate in my career as an activist evangelical is exactly 0% and my skepticism about QS doesn’t recommend me as an evangelist for it either.
Earlier this year, the New York Times laid out the obstacles for the supposedly inevitable EV future. In part, it’s not just about the lack of infrastructure; the current grid needs an upgrade in capacity to make mainstream integration credible.
As journalist Brad Plumer wrote:
Take California. The state has a surplus of solar power during the day, but that ramps down in the evening as the sun sets. If millions of Californians with electric cars came home in the evening and immediately started charging all at once, it would put a major strain on the grid — and this in a state that has recently been suffering from blackouts.
However, solid-state batteries could very well be the answer because of their density and enhanced efficiency. But underlying manufacturers must deliver and that’s where the narrative for QS stock (and other faith-based EV ventures) becomes very questionable.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (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.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.