Tesla to Acquire Maxwell Technologies for $218 Million

Tesla to Acquire Maxwell Technologies for $218 Million

This will be especially useful for regenerative braking, as slowing down a three thousand pound vehicle produces a lot of energy, and Tesla's current battery technology can't soak all of it up.

On Monday, Musk took a huge gamble to make the big leap forward that will see supercaps replace batteries in future EVs.

Tesla has agreed to buy U.S. energy storage company Maxwell Technologies in a deal that values the specialist battery and ultra-capacitor maker at $US218 million, the two companies said on Monday.

A Tesla spokesperson told Fortune in an e-mailed statement that the company is "always looking for potential acquisitions that make sense for the business and support Tesla's mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy".

Outside of the company, Bill Selesky, an analyst with Argus Research, said that Maxwel's proprietary battery technology would will help Tesla give its EVs "greater battery power while taking up less space and lighter weight in the vehicle". Currently, Tesla's exclusively buys vehicle batteries from Panasonic. Where a supercapacitor can be used to weld metal by simply shorting the terminals (don't do that, by the way), battery technology hasn't yet caught up.

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Tesla also sells power storage, often in conjunction with its solar power business, and ultracapacitors could be used in backup systems for homes and for utility power grids. Maxwell claims they can lengthen the life of a battery by up to two times, and function across a broader temperature range. An ultracapacitor stores energy in an electric field, which is different from a battery that stores it in fluid. "Real competitors are coming now, so Tesla needs to move fast".

What a Tesla-powered charging station will look like.

Massively boosting the charge held by supercaps while seriously reducing supercap size will likely be the key problem Musk wants solved with his acquisition of Maxwell Technologies.

Tesla's founder has always been interested in ultracapacitors and their potential (he almost researched them as part of a pHD program), and the Maxwell acquisition might give Musk the talent needed to try them out in future vehicles. "But we need a breakthrough in energy density". Maxwell shares were halted on the news.

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