Semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed plans to build the world’s largest fab for SiC components in Germany. The automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen is also on board.
Reports about the project appeared in several media in Germany, among them the business newspaper Handelsblatt. According to the reports, production is to begin in four years, but at the moment, the negotiations about the essential funding from the public sector are not yet concluded. Such finding is usual for such projects; typically it lies in the the order of 40%, the report says. ZF will participate in the production with a minority share of an undisclosed amount.
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According to the report, the projected plant will be larger than Wolfspeed’s latest and most expensive SiC fab in the USA which cost about $2 billion. The site will be located in Endorf in the south-western German state of Saarland; the chip production there is to be built on the site of a disused coal-fired power station. The location has been picked for its proximity to automotive OEMs and tier ones in Southern Germany, the report says.
SiC technology is of great importance to automotive suppliers, especially due to the fast advance of electromobility. SiC chips are used in battery chargers, voltage converters and high-power drive controllers. They offer higher efficiency than common silicon-based components; used in electric cars, the higher efficiency results in a longer range and shorter battery charging times. ZF already uses SiC components in 800V inverters in series production.
With such a joint production, ZF would for the first time become directly involved in semiconductor production. This would bring the company a bit closer to its major competitor Bosch, which has been operating large-scale semiconductor manufacturing facilities for a long time.
ZF did not comment on the reports; likewise, the state government of Saarland declined to comment. However, well-informed sources said that relevant news on the matter could be expected in early February.