Tesla plans to to acquire Maxwell Technologies at a price of $4.75 per share, or approximately $218 million. The merger, which was unanimously approved by Maxwell’s board of directors, is to be finalized around the second quarter of 2019.
Maxwell is based in San Diego and has about 380 employees. The company will be familiar to Charged readers mainly because of its innovations in the realm of ultracapacitors, and the astute will recall that Elon Musk was planning to study ultracapacitors when he arrived at Stanford in the 1990s.
However, Electrek’s Fred Lambert surmises that Tesla’s acquisition of Maxwell may have little to do with ultracapacitors, and much to do with a “dry electrode” technology that the company has recently been discussing. “We have developed our patented, proprietary and fundamental dry electrode manufacturing technology that we have historically used to make ultracapacitors to create a breakthrough technology that can be applied to the manufacturing of batteries,” says the company’s latest press release.
Maxwell claims to have demonstrated that its electrode can enable an energy density of over 300 Wh/kg, and predicts that it can achieve over 500 Wh/kg. This would be a significant improvement over the density of current battery cells, but other benefits could be even more important. Maxwell says its technology can simplify the manufacturing process and result in a “10 to 20% cost reduction versus state-of-the-art wet electrodes,” while also “extending battery life [by] up to a factor of two.”
Of course, companies regularly announce advances in battery tech, but Elon Musk and JB Straubel have repeatedly said that, while they keep a close eye on new developments, they haven’t yet seen a cell that’s proven to be better than those produced by Tesla and partner Panasonic. Tesla’s acquisition of Maxwell indicates that they’ve finally found a firm that can deliver the goods.
“Tesla is a well-respected and world-class innovator that shares a common goal of building a more sustainable future,” said Maxwell CEO Dr. Franz Fink. “We believe this transaction is in the best interests of Maxwell stockholders and offers investors the opportunity to participate in Tesla’s mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy.”