Tesla snaps up U.S. ultracapacitor maker, in bid to cut EV costs

Tesla to buy battery-tech firm Maxwell for $218 million in stock

The lure of improved lithium-ion batteries would be tempting for any electric auto company, but Maxwell's work with ultracapacitors may also provide hints at Tesla's future plans. In a presentation, Maxwell said it expected strategic alliances "within six months" centered around this technology. Maxwell shares were halted on the news.

Tesla does not invest lightly, as can be seen with its acquisition of Grohmann Automation, which gave it a competitive advantage and a way to maximize automation in the Tesla Model 3 production lines to get the auto to scale faster.

"We are 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", a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement. Maxwell has been developing patented dry electrode technologies that can be used to create ultracapacitors that store large amounts of electrical charge without losing energy.

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. That's considered fast charging, a hallmark of the Tesla brand.

Maxwell Technologies' customers include General Motors and Lamborghini.

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The purchase price of US$4.75 a share, announced by Maxwell in a statement on Monday, amounts to about a 55 per cent premium to the target's closing price on February 1. Maxwell shares rose to trade at $4.58.

Tesla chief Elon Musk had highlighted the importance of ultracapacitors back in 2013.

Currently, Japan's Panasonic Corp is the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla cars. Was going to do my PhD at Stanford on them.

In the past Tesla has acquired Riviera Tool LLC, a manufacturer of stamping die systems used to form sheet metal parts; SolarCity, a provider of solar energy services to homeowners, businesses, government, and non-profit organizations in; Grohmann Engineering, a firm that makes Tesla's robots for production, and Perbix, a maker of highly automated manufacturing equipment in November 2017.

Maxwell expects the deal, which has already been approved by its board, to close in the second quarter of 2019, or shortly thereafter.

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