Elon Musk has commented on Tesla’s acquisition of Maxwell, an ultra-capacitor manufacturer and battery technology company, and shed some lights on the automaker’s plan for the company.
When Tesla announced the acquisition of the San Diego-based ultracapacitor and battery company Maxwell for over $200 million, it was unclear if it was for the company’s main business, ultracapacitors, or for its latest battery technology IP, like a new dry electrode technology for battery cells.
We reported last year that Tesla started integrating Maxwell’s ultracapacitor business into the company, but it still wasn’t clear if Tesla planned to use the technology in its own products.
However, we also uncovered comments from Maxwell executives about how Tesla was mainly interested in the company’s battery technology, including its dry electrode product, as part of the acquisition.
Now CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that Tesla is not very interested in ultra-capacitors for its cars.
On the Tesla Third Row podcast, the CEO said that the advancements in Li-ion battery technology have made ultra-capacitors unnecessary for electric vehicles.
Instead, Musk said that Tesla is looking into using several of Maxwell’s battery technologies.
The CEO said that it’s going to be a “big deal” and that it could have a “very big impact” on their business:
“It’s kind of a big deal. Maxwell has a bunch of technologies that if they are applied in the right way I think can have a very big impact.”
Musk confirmed that Maxwell’s dry electrode technology is “one of the technologies” that could be a “big deal”.
As we previously reported, Tesla already all but confirmed that it is going to make its own battery cells shortly after the acquisition of Maxwell last year.
A more detailed plan is going to be announced at Tesla’s ‘Battery and Powertrain day’, which Musk now says should happen in “a few months.”
During the podcast, Musk also commented on the approach to batteries from other automakers:
“Most other car companies want to outsource battery technology. There’s the battery, module and cell. There are all outsourcing the cells, but some are even outsourcing the modules and the packs. They are not thinking about fundamental chemistry improvements.”
Here’s the relevant part of the interview:
Interesting albeit vague comments. It pretty much confirmed what we reported in October based on our insights into Tesla’s integration of the newly acquired Maxwell.
I agree that the prospect of Tesla making its own batteries with Maxwell’s tech is quite a big deal.
However, I disagree with Elon’s comments about other automakers.
I agree that Tesla likely has the most wide-ranging approach to batteries of any automakers, but several of them are doing a similar approach down to the battery cell and cell chemistry.
BMW, Daimler, VW, and several others have battery cell research groups and partnerships with cell manufacturers similar to Tesla’s partnership with Panasonic.
In short, yes, I do believe Tesla is leading on that front, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that other automakers are not even looking at improving battery chemistry.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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