Tesla Acquires Maxwell Technologies, But Huge Innovation Gap Remains


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is underestimating the “R&D hell” to get to higher energy density ultracapacitors, says Taavi Madiberk of Skeleton Technologies. 

Taavi Madiberk, CEO, Skeleton Technologies

With Tesla acquiring ultra-capacitor manufacturer Maxwell Technologies, the global attention is now focused on one of the world’s most advanced energy storage technologies – ultra-capacitors as an alternative and supplement to conventional battery technologies, especially for electromobility.

Skeleton Technologies Group, the European market leader in ultracapacitors, has hailed the acquisition of its competitor Maxwell Technologies by Tesla, but noted that they will not stay in the market for long unless Tesla closes its “innovation gap.”

Taavi Madiberk, founder and CEO, Skeleton Technologies, commented, “Tesla has made the right move – the ultracapacitor manufacturer acquisition highlights the evident limits of Li-ion batteries in terms of fast charging and thermal management, whereas ultracapacitors offer fast charging in seconds and ultra-high efficiency, allowing for better thermal management and much longer life-time.”


What is the innovation gap?  

According to Madiberk, Tesla has a huge innovation gap. He explained, “Maxwell Technologies, the company Tesla has acquired, has an energy density of 7Wh/kg, as opposed to Skeleton Technologies’ curved graphene ultracapacitors that offer today ca 20 Wh/kg.”

Tesla/Maxwell is currently in a leading market position in the automotive industry, but Madiberk said, “without closing the innovation gap, they will not stay there for long.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who studied ultracapacitors in Stanford during his PhD, is underestimating the “R&D hell” to get to higher energy density ultracapacitors, Madiberk pointed out.

“We do not see Tesla closing the gap any time soon. In fact, key engineering people from Maxwell/Tesla have joined Skeleton recently,” he claimed.

“Musk has previously stated that he is a big fan of ultracapacitors, but we need a breakthrough of in terms energy density,” he added.

Madiberk also announced that they are expanding their manufacturing and R&D capabilities in Germany and have a clear road-map of hitting 60 Wh/kg, while retaining charging times measured in seconds and a cost point lower than high power batteries.






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