Automakers „aggressively” on search for SiC power components

Market news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

In order to further improve the power performance of electric vehicles (EV), major global automakers have focused on a new generation of SiC (silicon carbide) power components and have successively launched a number of high-performance car models equipped with corresponding products. According to TrendForce research, as more and more automakers begin to introduce SiC technology into electric drive systems, the market for vehicle SiC power components is forecast to reach $1.07 billion in 2022 and will climb to $3.94 billion by 2026, the market researcher predicts.

According to TrendForce, the automotive SiC power component market is currently dominated by major European and American IDMs. The key suppliers STM, ON Semi, Wolfspeed, Infineon, and Rohm have long been deeply involved in this field and have close interactions with major automakers and Tier 1 manufacturers. The affluence of the automotive market has also impressed the importance of stable supply capacity onto major manufacturers. Therefore, they have moved successively into the upstream substrate materials field in an effort to exert full control on the supply chain. For example, ON Semi acquired GT Advanced Technologies last year.

Major automakers have high hopes for SiC and are simultaneously and vigorously participating in the construction of supply chains. From the perspective of China, the world’s largest EV market, automakers such as SAIC and GAC have begun to deploy an entire SiC industry chain, which has created invaluable development opportunities for domestic suppliers. At the same time, automotive OEMs such as BYD and Hyundai have launched their own chip research and development programs which have injected new vitality into the market.

In addition, the cost-effectiveness of using SiC power components has always been a market concern and its key lies in upstream substrate materials. The industry is experimenting with various methods to further reduce costs including new crystal growth approaches (UJ-Crystal, Jing Ge Ling Yu), high-efficiency wafer processing technology (Soitec, Disco, Infineon, Lasic Semiconductor Technology), and following Wolfspeed in the direction of 8-inch wafer technology. With continuing breakthroughs in SiC materials technology and the maturity of chip structure and module packaging process, the penetration rate of SiC power components in the automotive market is expected to maintain an upward trajectory and will gradually extend from current high-end vehicle applications to medium and low-end vehicles in order to accelerate the process of vehicle electrification.

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