Tesla sells Maxwell’s ultracapacitor business amid dry electrode battery focus

Tesla Panasonic Battery

Tesla has offloaded Maxwell Technologies’ ultracapacitor business to UCAP Power, Inc., a developer of ultracapacitor-based power solutions. The announcement was posted in a press release, which noted that the deal included the purchase of Maxwell Technologies Korea, the company’s Korea-based ultracapacitor business, as well as other assets related to the Maxwell brand.

Gordon Schenk, UCAP Power CEO, was optimistic about the deal. “We’re thrilled to combine Maxwell Technologies Korea’s ultracapacitor manufacturing capabilities and one of the largest patent and product portfolios in the industry with the growing family of products developed by UCAP Power,” he said.

UCAP Power’s purchase of Maxwell’s ultracapacitor business comes amidst Tesla’s focus on dry electrode battery technology, another key product in Maxwell’s portfolio. After Tesla’s purchase of Maxwell Technologies in 2019, speculations suggested that the EV maker may be looking to integrate ultracapacitors in its vehicles. Tesla, however, opted to utilize Maxwell’s dry electrode tech instead, which was then used in the company’s 4680 cells.

In a recent post on Twitter, Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla’s offloading of Maxwell’s ultracapacitor business is quite ironic since he was, at one point, looking to do his Ph.D. at Stanford on high energy density capacitors for EVs. The Tesla CEO explained, however, that lithium-ion batteries today can already usher in a sustainable future, even without radical advances. Maxwell’s dry electrode technology is then a key part of the puzzle, especially with regards to lowering the cost of batteries.

“Ironic indeed, as I was at one point going to do my Ph.D. at Stanford on high energy density capacitors for use in electric vehicles. But lithium-ion has it covered. Even with no advances in lithium-ion technology, it’s possible to transition Earth to sustainable energy. Dry electrode is a key piece (one of many pieces) of the puzzle for lowering cost of lithium batteries. That said, it has required an *immense* amount of engineering to take Maxwell’s proof-of-concept to high-quality, volume production & we’re still not quite done,” Musk wrote.

This was not the first time that Elon Musk mentioned the challenge of ramping the production of Tesla’s custom 4680 battery cells, which are expected to be used in vehicles like the Cybertruck and the Semi. Considering that both the Cybertruck and the Semi are reportedly on track to start initial deliveries this year, there seems to be a pretty fair chance that Tesla’s 4680 cells, and the dry electrode tech that goes into them, are closing in on meaningful volume production.

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