Silicon carbide chip factory plans tease range boost to electric cars

By dpa | 6 February 2023

BERLIN: Semiconductors made of silicon carbide are seen as something of a game changer in electromobility, as these powerful chips could make electric cars more attractive by delivering faster charging and more economical consumption.

In anticipation of this promised range boost to electric cars, US company Wolfspeed says it wants to build the world's largest factory for silicon carbide electronics.

The company announced last Wednesday that it wants to start building a factory in Germany's Saarland region in the first half of 2023, pending to approval by the EU Commission.

Wolfspeed says the aim is to deliver "breakthrough innovation" and the "world’s largest, most advanced" production facility to meet the growing demand for silicon carbide for a wide range of applications in the automotive industry, as well as others.

Silicon carbide enables smaller, lighter and more cost-effective systems for more efficient energy conversion for countless new applications.

News of potentially abundant chips delivering improved performance in electric cars is promising for an industry beset with supply chain problems.

At the same time, many buyers remain reluctant to switch to battery electrics due to fears of lacking charging infrastructure and the higher costs associated with these cars. A boost in range from these more efficient semiconducters could thus help manufacturers to sell more cars.

Wolfspeed CEO Gregg Lowe said the new facility will be critical to support expansion in an industry that is struggling with supply problems on the one hand and growing very fast on the other.

Serial production of the chips, mainly for use in electric vehicles, is expected to begin in four years.