Tesla acquires storage specialist Maxwell Technologies

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U.S. electric car maker Tesla has announced an intent take over California battery specialist Maxwell Technologies, which specializes in supercapacitors. Although the target company’s technology is not ready for commercial production, it is considered a possible energy storage technology of the future as it could make much faster charging possible.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of June or shortly thereafter, Maxwell Technologies said in a statement, adding closure of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. Tesla has agreed to acquire the battery specialist through a stock swap which would make Maxwell a wholly owned subsidiary.

Taavi Madiberk, head of European ultracapacitor company Skeleton Technologies Group, described Tesla’s investment as the “right move”. Super or ultracapacitors could be recharged within seconds and have particularly high efficiency, allowing for better thermal management and extending the life of batteries.

However, their commercial use necessitates a breakthrough in energy density, with Maxwell claiming a figure of 7 Wh/kg, versus Skeleton’s 20 Wh. Without closing that gap, Tesla and Maxwell may not be able to maintain a leading position in the automotive industry.

Madiberk said Skeleton Technologies will continue to expand production and research and development capacity in Germany, with a clear roadmap to achieve a 60 Wh/kg energy density.

This article was amended on 06/02/19 to correct the spelling of Elon Musk’s name. It was clearly not edited by a Millennial first time around.