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Elon Musk’s Tesla Buys Maxwell To Develop Supercapacitors For Electric Cars

Tuesday 05 February 2019 02:09 PM

Tesla Electric Car
Tesla Electric Car

In 2011, Elon Musk predicted that supercapacitors, not batteries, will power future electric vehicles (EVs) such as those being produced in massive numbers by his Tesla, Inc.

On Monday, Musk took a huge gamble to make the gigantic leap forward that will see supercaps replace batteries in future EVs. Musk announced that Tesla will acquire Maxwell Technologies, a firm based in San Diego, California that makes supercapacitors (or ultracapacitors), which store and deliver energy much the same way a battery does but provides more power and shorter charging times.

“I'm a big fan of ultracapacitors,” Musk once tweeted.

In a statement announcing the Maxwell Technologies acquisition, Tesla said it’s 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.

Improved power storage such as those provided by supercaps is essential to two of Tesla’s main products: its battery-powered Tesla electric sedans and Tesla Powerwall, a battery system used for back-up power in homes. Panasonic Corporation of Japan is the exclusive lithium ion battery supplier for Tesla sedans.

Maxwell Technologies' customers include General Motors and Lamborghini. It makes supercaps used in automobile batteries to extend their service lives. Supercaps are also used to store massive amounts of electricity in national power grids.

Combined with the energy of batteries, ultracapacitors can enable rapid response times, extend operational temperature range and lengthen battery life by up to two times, according to a Maxwell Technologies. Supercaps hold energy in an electrical field and not in chemical form.