Although most folks love to parrot the phrase, “electric vehicles are the future,” that future may be further off than many think. Sure, we’d love to go green and all, but we also need to pay the bills. That’s where QuantumScape (NYSE:QS) could potentially provide the paradigm-shifting solution, explaining early sentiment for QS stock.
To briefly recap, QuantumScape is one of a growing number of technology firms dedicated to the research and development of solid-state batteries (SSBs). These next-generation batteries are game-changers because — if they reach commercial viability — their composition will facilitate longer ranges, lower costs and faster charging. It’s having your cake and eating it too.
There’s just one little problem: Reaching commercial viability is much easier said than done. When the reality of this difficulty began gaining recognition among stakeholders, the instinct was to dump QS stock.
Initial public offerings via reverse mergers with special purpose acquisition companies have garnered a bad reputation in recent months. QuantumScape is a shiningly dubious example of what could go wrong with this financial vehicle. For a brief moment in late 2020, shares of QS stock were changing hands at over $100. At the time of writing, you can pick up shares for less than $17 apiece.
To be fair, supporters of the solid-state battery specialist see some light at the end of the tunnel. Analysts are starting to pay attention to the discount that QS stock is printing. As well, the company has released battery testing data that implies progress in its fast-charging capabilities.
Nevertheless, despite some promising improvements, QS stock is down 26% year to date. Unless something dramatic happens, shareholders may incur more pain.
Why Revenue Is Further Away Than Most Predict
As InvestorPlace contributor Will Ashworth recently wrote, he’s not seeing many positive signs that would justify a heavy position in QS stock. From competition concerns to a potentially bitter legal dispute involving shareholder accusations about misleading test results, QuantumScape faces myriad obstacles. And that’s before even talking about the extraordinary challenge of trailblazing an unprecedented technology.
As such, Ashworth stated, “It is never easy valuing a company, let alone one that is not expected to have any revenue for a few years.”
I’ll say. I’d also add that you can take the projected time in which QuantumScape will generate revenue — most put it at 2024 or later — and tack on a few years.
Although EV manufacturers love to wax poetic about the rapid-fire progress their industry is making, people seem to forget that the combustion-car industry isn’t exactly sitting still. True, the innovation in combustion is comparatively minuscule, but it’s still there. What’s more, when you combine this small innovation rate with an extremely large user base, you have a net impact that EVs are finding difficult to match, let alone usurp.
The average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways hit a record 12.1 years in 2021, according to IHS Markit. Among the many catalysts for this statistic is that combustion cars (including the American-made ones) are more reliable than ever. Thus, there’s no pressing need to transition to EVs.
Further, when these cars give out, they may need outright replacement. If that unfortunate situation occurs during the periods of soaring used-car prices, consumers have little choice but to pay up. Sadly for EVs, this means the transition point will be delayed a few years. Put another way, combustion vehicles may be more relevant than you might think.
The Bottom Line on QS Stock
To be fair, if QuantumScape delivers a miracle battery — one that’s cheaper, faster charging and better performing than your typical lithium-ion counterpart — then QS stock could rise sharply, repeating the investor enthusiasm from December 2020.
But given the improvements that combustion cars have made over the years, in conjunction with the financial difficulties that the coronavirus pandemic imposed, QuantumScape’s batteries will have to be far superior to anything we’ve ever seen. That’s a tall order considering the company is still working on basic commercial viability.
Now, I don’t want to get too negative on QS stock. Certainly, the price point is much more attractive than it was one year ago today. Still, if you decide to engage, I would only nibble at it. There could be more downside on the way simply because the rules of the game have changed — and not in QuantumScape’s favor.
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.