Improved battery life has been the holy grail of EV makers, and with so many companies now waiting for attention, the races are in order to ensure that drivers do not have to charge their cars so often. It's a little surprise when Tesla watched Maxwell – after all, the company has a lot of experience with traditional lithium-ion batteries. In a paper published last year, Maxwell researchers said Joon Shin and Hieu Duong had developed "dry" battery electrodes that allowed "unmatched energy density and improved cycle life" compared to more traditional designs. And because Maxwell's production process does not involve toxic liquid solvents, it is also easier on the environment.
The lure of improved lithium-ion batteries will be tempting for all electric car companies, but Maxwell's ultrapacitor work can also hint at Tesla's future plans. In short, ultra-capacitors are powerful non-chemical sources that are better at delivering fast switches when needed than more traditionally, and are well-suited to being charged during braking. If they sound like pluses for electric vehicles, you're right ̵
Tesla's founder has long been interested in ultra-capacitors and their potential (he almost researched them as part of a pHD program), and the Maxwell acquisition can give Musk the talent needed to test them in future cars. If nothing else, Tesla's latest purchases can only be enough to give it an edge over existing car manufacturers – until they go out and buy their own innovative battery companies, that is.