QuantumScape loses manufacturing chief due to management style mismatch – TechCrunch


Celina Mikolajczak, who has held executive positions at Tesla and Panasonic, resigned from QuantumScape less than a year after taking up the post of chief manufacturing officer at the solid-state battery company, according to a regulatory filing.

Mikolajczak and QuantumScape are parting ways over “differing management styles between the parties,” the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says. Mikolajczak will move into an advisory role on the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

She intends to focus her career on developing an all-US-based battery supply chain, according to the filing.

QuantumScape shares fell 7.7% to close at $10.15, near its 52-week low of $10.

The departure ends a fast and furious relationship between the company and Mikolajczak.

Just over a year ago, Mikolajczak served on the board of QuantumScape. She was still vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America when she joined the board, telling TechCrunch at the time that her employer “graciously allowed” her to take the nomination.

A month later, QuantumScape announced that Mikolajczak would join the company as vice president of manufacturing engineering, beginning in July. She resigned from the board as part of the acceptance of the offer. In her new role, Mikolajczak was tasked with leading the transition of the company’s manufacturing tools and processes from research and development to production, QuantumScape said in a regulatory filing at the time.

The hiring seemed like a boon for both parties.

QuantumScape, which had risen to prominence after the Volkswagen Group invested more than $500 million, reached an agreement in September 2020 to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company, Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp. The capital raised in the public markets would give QuantumScape the boost it needs to bring solid-state batteries for electric vehicles to market.

Meanwhile, Mikolajczak had the kind of experience QuantumScape would need to scale.

Mikolajczak has a long history of researching and developing better lithium-ion batteries. His technical consulting practice at Exponent focused on the safety and quality of lithium-ion cells and batteries. She then held a leadership position at Tesla, focusing on cell quality and materials engineering. While at Tesla, Mikolajczak developed the cells and battery packs for Tesla’s Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Roadster Refresh.

After leaving Tesla, Mikolajczak served as director of engineering, focusing on battery development for ride-sharing vehicles at Uber Technologies. And in 2019, she joined Panasonic Energy of North America, where she was vice president of battery technology. At Panasonic, Mikolajczak led a team focused on improving lithium-ion cell manufacturing and bringing the latest cell technologies to mass production for Tesla at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada.

Tech

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