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Tesla to buy energy tech company: What to know about Maxwell Technologies

Brittany De Lea

Electric automaker Tesla is planning to purchase energy storage company Maxwell Technologies in an all-stock deal worth about $218 million, the companies said on Monday.

The announcement comes amid a cost-cutting initiative at the automaker – which announced just last month it would slash an additional 7 percent of its workforce as it works to lower the price of its flagship Model 3 sedan to reach a broader market. During its fourth quarter, the company turned a small profit and expects to do so in each quarter this year.

In a statement, a spokesperson said Tesla is always looking for new investment opportunities.

“We’re always looking for potential acquisitions that make sense for the business and support Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” the spokesperson said.

Maxwell Technologies is a small company and has been around for more than 50 years. It is headquartered in San Diego, California, where it develops energy storage devices for the automotive, renewable energy, wireless communications and heavy transportation sectors.

Maxwell’s main focus is ultracapacitors, which accept and deliver charge quickly. An ultracapacitor stores energy in an electric field, which is different from a battery that stores it in fluid.

An ultracapacitor can replace a battery in certain circumstances, but often they are used in tandem.

This product is already used in cars, buses and wind turbines to extend battery life and increase energy efficiency, according to Maxwell.

It also specializes in a patented dry battery electrode technology, which it uses to make its ultracapacitors. The process aims to cut costs and increase driving ranges.

The company claims to have millions of products “performing reliably around the clock worldwide.” It has operations extending as far as Europe, Africa, Germany and South Korea.

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Maxwell also counts General Motors as a customer.

Tesla’s acquisition of Maxwell is expected to close in the second quarter. Currently, Tesla’s exclusively buys car batteries from Panasonic.

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