QuantumScape loses manufacturing chief over management style – TechCrunch

Celina Mikolajczak, who has held senior roles at Tesla and Panasonic, resigned from QuantumScape less than a year after taking the chief manufacturing officer position 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 states. Mikolajczak will move to an advisory role on the company’s scientific advisory board.

She intends to focus her career on the development of a fully U.S.-based battery supply chain, according to the filing.

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

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

A little over a year ago, Mikolajczak took a board seat at 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 appointment.

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

The hiring appeared to be a boon for both parties.

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

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. Her technical consulting practice at Exponent focused on lithium-ion cell and battery safety and quality. She then took a senior management position at Tesla that was focused on cell quality and materials engineering. During her time at Tesla, Mikolajczak developed the battery cells and packs for Tesla’s Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Roadster Refresh.

After leaving Tesla, Mikolajczak went on to serve as director of engineering, focusing on battery development for rideshare vehicles at Uber Technologies. And in 2019, she joined Panasonic Energy of North America, where she was vice president of battery technology. While 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 facility in Sparks, Nevada.

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