Starting from Tesla, car manufacturers are chasing SiC thighs

Since Tesla fired the first shot of SiC MOSFET in April 2016, SiC has become a hot track for semiconductor manufacturers, and SiC is also accelerating its entry into cars. Recently, we have found that more and more car manufacturers have begun to sign cooperation with SiC manufacturers, especially the heavy blow brought by the “lack of core”.

Which SiC companies do they cooperate with? This depends on the pattern of the global SiC industry. At present, SiC is mainly controlled by Europe, the United States and Japan, and the United States is the world’s largest. Most of the global SiC production comes from Cree and II-VI in the United States; Europe is dominated by SiC substrates, epitaxy, and devices, and representative companies include Infineon, Italian French Semiconductors, etc. Japan has advantages in equipment and modules. Typical companies include ROHM, Mitsubishi Electric, and Fuji Electric. These relatively strong SiC manufacturers have become the objects that car manufacturers rely on. It also includes some Tier 1 manufacturers, such as Bosch and Continental Germany. These Tier 1 manufacturers have launched electric drive modules one after another, and some of them have already been put into mass production. The advantages in the field are more obvious. And some domestic SiC companies have also begun to join the ranks and gradually get a share of the pie.

Hold tight to the thigh of the SiC giant

Recently, Wolfspeed (formerly Cree) announced that the company has reached a SiC supply agreement with GM. Under the agreement, GM intends to switch to more energy-efficient silicon carbide power electronics in its next-generation Ultium Drive-based electric vehicles. As part of the agreement, GM will participate in the Wolfspeed Assurance of Supply Program (WS AoSP), which aims to provide domestic, sustainable and scalable materials for electric vehicle production. The agreement states that GM’s required silicon carbide power device solutions will be sourced domestically and produced at Wolfspeed’s new Mohawk Valley facility in Marcy, New York.

Prior to this, in May 2019, Cree announced that it was selected by Volkswagen as a silicon carbide partner for the “future automotive supply trajectory”; in addition, Infineon is also a strategic partner of Volkswagen’s FAST project, and their cooperation points are concentrated in Volkswagen MEB Power modules in electric drive control solutions.

It is reported that Wolfspeed has reached multi-year long-term material agreements totaling more than $1.3 billion in various industries, with a total device pipeline (pipeline) totaling more than $15 billion, and capacity additions 30 times larger than previous facility plans. Wolfspeed is advancing an important transition from Si to SiC in several industries.

The Wolfspeed name was recently revised by Cree, which has been the company’s silicon carbide material brand for the past six years, and the Wolfspeed name “embodies both the noble qualities of the wolf – leadership, intelligence and endurance – and speed, which characterize It’s the speed at which companies innovate and operate…”. Cree has successively divested two-thirds of its business in recent years, focusing on SiC technology and production.

According to Rex Felton, senior vice president of fab operations at Wolfspeed, “Whenever you do any part of an agreement with the Big Three, that commitment represents a big step,” Felton said. “It’s a testament to the industry’s commitment to delivering very innovative electrification solutions, and silicon carbide is at the heart of that.” We have a long way to go to fill it up,” Felton said. “And I think it will definitely draw more attention from industry players to our silicon carbide solutions.”

The silicon carbide power device solutions will be produced at Wolfspeed’s 200mm-capable Mohawk Valley facility in Marcy, New York, the largest silicon carbide manufacturing facility in the world. The state-of-the-art factory will start up in early 2022.

Going back further, since the 1980s, Toyota’s Toyota Central Research Institute and Denso have jointly promoted SiC research. In 2007, Toyota began to participate in the development. In April last year, Denso and Toyota established MIRISE as a joint venture to conduct research and development of next-generation advanced automotive semiconductors.

Toyota believes that power semiconductors account for about 20% of the power loss among the factors that affect the fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of power semiconductors is one of the key technologies for improving fuel efficiency. It is necessary to independently develop power semiconductors to improve the efficiency of vehicles. In recent years, Toyota is also transferring its main Electronic components business to Denso. This move is enough to show their emphasis on automotive semiconductors.

In March 2018, SAIC and Infineon established a joint venture, SAIC Infineon Automotive Power Semiconductor (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.; since then, there have also been foreign media reports that SAIC is exploring how to ensure its supply of silicon carbide chips, including forming with component manufacturers. Joint venture.

In September 2019, STMicroelectronics was selected to supply high-efficiency silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi (Alliance) in an upcoming electric vehicle for use in on-board chargers (OBC). As the SiC technology partner of choice for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, ST will provide design support to help maximize OBC performance and reliability.

In June 2021, Reynolds Group and STMicroelectronics announced that they have reached a strategic cooperation, and STMicroelectronics will ensure that Reynolds’ wide-bandgap (third-generation semiconductor) device production needs are met in 2026-2030. At the same time, the two parties will also collaborate on the development of efficient, right-sized SiC (Silicon Carbide) and GaN (Gallium Nitride) technologies and products to improve the power performance of electric and hybrid vehicles.

In August 2021, Roma disclosed that it has launched technical cooperation with Geely Automobile, a large Chinese automobile enterprise, in the field of new-generation semiconductors with high energy efficiency. It is said that Geely will use a new generation of semiconductors produced by ROHM in the core system of the pure electric vehicle (EV) currently in the development stage, and the two parties will also promote joint development in this field in the future. As early as February 2020, the Japanese electric vehicle company GLM announced that it will develop a silicon carbide 800V system with ROHM. Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and ROHM Co., Ltd. have also conducted cooperative research on HEV/EV application of SiC semiconductor technology for many years.

Tier 1 manufacturers have also become a favorite

In addition to these traditional SiC giants, automotive Tier 1 manufacturers have also become partners of car companies. For example, in October 2019, Bosch officially announced its start of silicon carbide related business in Germany. The production base is located in Reutlingen, Germany, mainly to produce silicon carbide wafers and MOSFETs. Vitesco Technologies (Vitesco), a subsidiary of German Continental Group, has many products in the field of electronic control and electronics, which are among the top three in terms of market share.

On March 25, 2021, Vitesco announced that it has received an order from Hyundai Motor, worth “hundreds of millions of euros (over 700 million yuan)”, which will provide Hyundai with 800V silicon carbide inverters. According to the company, this is the first time the technology has gone mainstream “in a large amount” and it improves efficiency, charging power and charging time (just 20 minutes in most cases) compared to traditional 400v systems. If this transition to higher voltage systems is successful, we may soon see more manufacturers gradually move to 800 V nominal.

Vitesco Technology chose Roma Semiconductor as its silicon carbide (SiC) power device partner. Vitesco Technology plans to start mass production of the first SiC inverter in 2025, when the market demand for SiC solutions is expected to increase significantly.

On April 21, 2021, JAC and Bosch signed a strategic agreement on silicon carbide inverters and other aspects. The two parties carried out exchanges and cooperation in all aspects of 400V and 800V electric drive systems, silicon carbide inverters and electric drive bridges. For the 400V high-speed single-reduction system matching pure electric light truck project, the two parties will jointly develop and cooperate in 2021, and strive to have the conditions for small batches to be put on the market by the end of 2021.

Bosch has been making semiconductor-related products since 1970. In the automotive field, from the initial ASICS, to sensors, to power semiconductors, and to the latest silicon carbide power semiconductors, Bosch is gradually expanding itself. The lack of cores made Bosch feel the crisis and invested 1 billion euros to build its own12 Inch fabs, which mainly produce application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and power semiconductor products, with process nodes mainly at 65nm.

Domestic SiC manufacturers emerge

In the face of such a huge demand, with the strong support and brave trial and error of domestic car companies, domestic SiC manufacturers have also been pushed to the forefront.

In December 2016, BAIC New Energy signed a strategic agreement with CRRC Times, focusing on cooperation in technologies such as IGBT modules and silicon carbide. At present, CRRC Times Electric has built a 6-inch SiC (Silicon Carbide) industrialization base. According to the “Hunan Daily” report, CRRC Times Electric has the highest standard of the current international SiC (Silicon Carbide) chip production line.

On September 29, 2020, Sanan Integration and Jinlong New Energy signed a strategic agreement to jointly promote the prototype trial production and batch application of silicon carbide power devices in new energy bus motor controllers and auxiliary drive controllers. On June 23 this year, Sanan Optoelectronics announced that the first phase project of Hunan Sanan Semiconductor Base with a total investment of 16 billion yuan was officially put into production, which will build the first domestically and the third global silicon carbide vertically integrated industry chain. It is reported that the production line can produce 30,000 6-inch silicon carbide wafers per month.

On November 18, 2020, Jingjin Electric released a silicon carbide controller for vehicles, and disclosed that it has obtained a batch order from Volkswagen TRATON; its self-developed silicon carbide (SiC) controller has high switching frequency, high efficiency and high power density. Etc. And adopts the latest patented technology of auxiliary power system of Jingjin Electric. This feature ensures safe driving of the vehicle when the 24V low voltage is lost. This product is suitable for medium and high voltage passenger cars, commercial vehicles and logistics vehicles.

In addition, according to He Weiwei, general manager of Basic Semiconductor, in 2020, they cooperated with FAW, BAIC, Huayu, and Lanhai Huateng. Its automotive-grade silicon carbide modules have begun to be tested in the fourth quarter of 2019; in 2021, Zhou Xiaoyang, president of Guangdong Xinjuneng Semiconductor Co., Ltd., said that domestic new energy vehicles began to introduce silicon carbide MOSFETs to the main drive, and the response was good.

Epilogue

Obviously, silicon carbide has now become the focus of the layout of domestic and foreign car manufacturers. I believe that many car companies will strengthen cooperation with SiC manufacturers in the future. For example, Xiaopeng Motors hopes to cooperate with industry chain partners to jointly promote silicon carbide in the intelligent network. Standardization in automobiles; Li Xiang, founder, chairman and CEO of Lixiang Automobile, once said that the silicon carbide electric drive system is one of the four core technologies of Lili Automobile’s high-voltage pure electric platform. Today, with the explosion of new energy vehicles, silicon carbide has been completely pushed to the peak of the technological wave.

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