Cuberg leadership shakeup underscores slow pace of electric aircraft development

Founder Richard Wang’s abrupt departure raises questions over Cuberg’s future in the aviation market

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Release Date
February 27, 2024
Cuberg leadership shakeup underscores slow pace of electric aircraft development

When the Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt acquired Northern California-based Cuberg in 2021, both companies were optimistic that Cuberg’s lithium-metal battery technology would find a relatively quick path to commercialization. Lithium metal was always seen as a next-generation cell chemistry, but in those heady days of zero interest rates, it wasn’t preposterous to think that electric vertical take-off and landing developers would be flying aircraft commercially and launching battery upgrade programs within a few years. The press release announcing the acquisition predicted that Cuberg’s technology would be “deployed at scale in electromobility markets within three years, beginning with electric aviation.”

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Three years later, there is no scaled electric aviation market in which to deploy Cuberg’s battery technology, even if it were further along on its own development path. It was against this background of slower-than-expected technology development and higher-than-expected interest rates that Northvolt concluded it was time for a change — a decision that led to the abrupt departure of Cuberg founder and CEO Richard Wang, chief operating officer Reza Nikfar and chief strategy officer Michael Bartholomeusz just days ahead of the inauguration of Cuberg’s expanded production facilities in San Leandro, California on Feb. 26.

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