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SiC Semiconductors Power EV Revolution

In the ever-evolving landscape of the automotive industry, a transformative shift is underway as electric vehicles (EVs) take center stage. As governments worldwide push for stricter climate change regulations and consumer demand for sustainable mobility solutions skyrockets, automakers are gearing up for the largest transition in their history – the electrification revolution. At the forefront of this revolution is a cutting-edge technology: silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors.

While SiC semiconductors have been around for decades, it is only recently that their true potential has been realized. As the automotive market braces itself for the electric future, SiC technology has emerged as a game-changer. These semiconductors offer superior efficiency, higher power density, and the ability to operate at higher temperatures compared to traditional silicon-based counterparts. This breakthrough has made SiC semiconductors the go-to choice for automotive OEMs looking to power their electric drivetrains and onboard systems.

TechInsights, a renowned market research firm, predicts an exponential surge in demand for SiC semiconductors from EV production. The SiC market is expected to generate an impressive $9.6 billion in revenues by 2030, with a staggering compound annual growth rate of 37% through 2027. This surge in demand is a testament to the crucial role SiC semiconductors play in meeting the electrification goals set by governments and satisfying the evolving preferences of consumers.

While SiC is poised to dominate the power electronics landscape in EVs, it’s worth noting that traditional silicon-based components such as insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), and diodes will still retain a significant market share. TechInsights’ Executive Director of Automotive, Asif Anwar, affirms that these established technologies will continue to account for 50% of the overall market demand in the foreseeable future.

The projected revenues for the automotive power market, comprising power MOSFETs, IGBTs, and SiC semiconductors, are equally impressive. By 2030, the market is set to reach $26.6 billion, nearly doubling its current revenue of $12.6 billion. This expansion is driven by the growing adoption of EVs and the increasing need for advanced power semiconductor solutions to cater to their unique requirements.

SiC semiconductors find their optimal application in various types of EVs. Mild hybrids, for instance, primarily rely on silicon MOSFETs, with the potential for some integration of gallium nitride (GaN) technology if cost-effectiveness matches that of existing MOSFETs. Full hybrids and plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, favor mainstream silicon IGBTs and MOSFETs due to their cost-effectiveness. However, SiC and GaN semiconductors shine in full battery EVs, particularly in the main inverter, as they offer advantages such as reduced size, weight, improved system performance, and enhanced battery life. Despite their higher cost, these advantages are driving greater penetration of EVs in the long run.

The growing demand for SiC semiconductors has prompted major industry players to make strategic moves to capture a significant market share. ST Microelectronics, which accounts for approximately 50% of the overall automotive SiC market, recently announced a joint venture with Sanan Optoelectronics to establish a 200 mm SiC manufacturing facility in Chongqing, China. OnSemi signed a decade-long SiC agreement with automotive electric equipment maker Vitesco Technologies and committed to expanding its SiC production.