Comment by Taavi Madiberk

»Elon Musk is Underestimating the R&D Hell«

05. Februar 2019, 08:52 Uhr   |  Ralf Higgelke

»Elon Musk is Underestimating the R&D Hell«
© Skeleton Technologies

Taavi Madiberk, CEO of Skeleton Technologies, regards the acquisition of competitor Maxwell by Tesla not only positively.

Tesla has acquired Maxwell, a manufacturer of supercapacitors. Taavi Madiberk, founder and CEO of the Maxwell competitor Skeleton Technologies, sees his strategy for electromobility confirmed, yet this acquisition not only has positive aspects.

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.

Elon Musk has previously stated that he is a big fan of ultracapacitors, but we need a breakthrough of in terms energy density. Tesla has a huge innovation gap: 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 without closing the innovation gap, they will not stay there for long. Mr. Musk studied ultracapacitors in Stanford during his PhD, but he is underestimating the »R&D hell« to get to higher energy density ultracapacitors.

We are expanding our 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 – we do not see Tesla closing the gap any time soon. In fact, key engineering people from Maxwell/Tesla have joined Skeleton recently.

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