SiC market size for automobiles, doubling in 2 years

Reprinted from Semiconductor Industry Observation

The global sales of new energy vehicles have surged, and countries and factories have focused on the development of silicon carbide power components in order to differentiate, actively improving the power performance of electric vehicles; TrendForce stated that as more and more car manufacturers begin to introduce SiC technology into electric drive systems, the market size will show a rapid growth trend of doubling every two years.

TrendForce stated that the current automotive SiC power component market is mainly controlled by IDM manufacturers in Europe and America. Key suppliers STM, ON Semi, Wolfspeed (formerly Cree), Infineon, and ROHM have been deeply involved in this field for a long time, and have closely interacted with major car companies and Tier1 manufacturers; The prosperity of the automotive market has also made major manufacturers realize the importance of stable supply capacity, so they have gradually entered the upstream substrate material sector, attempting to fully grasp the supply chain. For example, ON Semi acquired GT Advanced Technologies last year.

In addition, the cost issue of using SiC power components has always been a market concern, with the key focus on upstream substrate materials. The industry is attempting to further reduce costs through various means, including new crystal growth methods (UJ-Crystal, lattice field), high-efficiency wafer processing techniques (Soitec, Disco, Infineon, Xi'an Shengguang Silicon Research), and following Wolfspeed towards 8 inches.

TrendForce emphasizes that with the continuous breakthroughs in silicon carbide material technology and the maturity of chip structure and module packaging processes, the penetration rate of SiC power components in the automotive market continues to rise, and gradually extends from the current high-end vehicle applications to mid to low-end vehicle models, thereby accelerating the process of automotive electrification.

TrendForce stated that from the perspective of China, which is currently the world's largest electric vehicle market, automotive companies such as SAIC and GAC have begun to layout the entire SiC industry chain, creating great development opportunities for local suppliers. At the same time, car companies such as BYD and Hyundai have launched their own chip research plans, injecting new vitality into the market.


Estimated market size of silicon carbide surpasses the $1 billion level in 2022

New Trends in SiC Industry: Vertical Integration is One of them

In yesterday's report on semiconductor industry observation, titled "The Birth of South Korea's First Manufacturer with a Full SiC Industry Chain", we talked about SK Group's acquisition as another company that controls the entire SiC industry chain. According to Yole, a consulting and analysis company, this has become an important trend in the SiC industry.

Yole's compound semiconductor team announced that the SiC device market will reach 6.3 billion US dollars by 2027. With the development trend of electric vehicles in the past few years, longer range is one of the main needs of customers. However, this in turn creates a demand for fast DC charging to reduce waiting time at charging stations. 800V EV is a solution that meets demand and began to penetrate the market in 2021.

Yole Compound Semiconductor and Emerging Materials Technology and Market Analyst Poshun Chiu commented. SiC is considered a driving factor in providing good efficiency, and supplying 1200V devices is feasible. With the emergence of more 800V electric vehicles, SiC is expected to grow rapidly. At the same time, charging infrastructure and photovoltaic are two markets that support the trend of electric vehicles. More chargers are needed to support the growing number of electric vehicles, and renewable energy and electric vehicles have the same zero carbon dioxide emission goals. These are SiC A market that gains more momentum

SiC market participants are striving to generate more revenue in this multi-billion dollar business.

For example, companies including STMicroelectronics, Wolfspeed, onsemi, and Infineon Technologies have announced their "billion dollar revenue" targets. Although each participant chose a different path, the similarities in their business models can be clearly identified.

In terms of IDM, their business model is that leading manufacturers choose to supply equipment, especially power modules. This business model represents a higher dollar value to increase revenue.

STMicroelectronics is a leading SiC company as their modules have been in use in Tesla Model 3 for many years. Their activities are not only at the device level; In fact, Alpha Semiconductor demonstrated their internal 8-inch SiC wafers in 2021.

Another leading SiC company, Onsemi, took an important step in 2021 by acquiring SiC wafer supplier GT Advanced Technologies. Today, Onsemi is committed to expanding its SiC wafer production capacity. Its goal is to support its rapidly growing SiC business.

Speaking of leading companies in the global power electronics industry, Infineon Technology achieved an impressive 126% growth in its SiC device business in 2021, exceeding the average growth rate of 57%. The 800V modern Ioniq5 developed by Infineon Technology has pushed it onto the fast lane with its solid industrial application foundation.

Dr. Peter Friedrich, Vice President of Silicon Carbide at Infineon Technologies, stated: The efficiency advantages brought by silicon carbide are perfectly matched with global efforts to save electricity. Not only in emerging and new applications such as solar energy conversion or electric vehicle charging, but also in traditional power semiconductor applications, the adoption rate will increase. We no longer need to promote the benefits of technology; these are well-known issues in the industry - now turning to intelligent implementation, which brings long-term cost-effectiveness advantages.

As for Wolfspeed, it is also determined to focus its activities on the SiC business. A few years ago, the company decided to undergo a major restructuring, selling its LED business and expanding its power device business. With its leading position in SiC wafers, Wolfspeed has now certified its 8-inch wafer factory. The company is moving forward and increasing its growth rate.

At the same time, ROHM is expanding its device and wafer production capacity for vertical integration after acquiring SiCrystal ten years ago. II-VI shared their long-term perspectives by showcasing 1200V equipment that meets automotive standards and expanding partnerships with General Electric.

In the past few years, these major participants have reshaped the SiC ecosystem. According to Yole, there are two main trends affecting its supply chain: vertical integration of wafer manufacturing and module packaging to generate more revenue in the coming years. In this context, terminal system companies, such as automotive OEMs, are adopting SiC faster and more flexibly to manage their supply with multiple wafer suppliers in the market

SiC World Driven by Innovation

From the perspective of technological development, innovative methods for SiC wafers have been proposed. As of 2022, SiC wafers still account for the main portion of SiC device costs.

Amine Allouche, a technology and cost analyst at System Plus Consulting, stated in the 2021 SiC transistor comparison report that "SiC raw wafer costs account for over 60% of the cost of 1200V SiC MOSFET epitaxial wafers. Although SiC wafer production capacity has been expanding, there is still strong innovation momentum in terms of quality, production, and cost.

The 8-inch SiC wafer is considered a key step in expanding production scale. The goal is obviously to increase production and gain an advantage in the next round of competition. The main IDM is developing its own 8-inch SiC wafer manufacturing capabilities; As of 2022, some wafer suppliers have started shipping samples.

In Yole's power SiC prediction, 6-inch will still be the leading platform for the next five years. However, starting from 2022, an initial volume of 8 inches will be launched and will be seen as a strategic resource by market participants.

Another method is to optimize the wafer processing process to produce more wafers from a single SiC ingot. Solution suppliers such as DISCO have developed laser cutting systems to increase production. Infineon Technology has certified their cold diversion technology.

Some companies have proposed the idea of "out of the box" and proposed very different methods for manufacturing SiC wafers. Soitec applies their SmartCut technology to produce thin layer SiC wafers with lower defect rates and processed wafers with lower resistivity. Sumitomo Metal Mining, a Japanese company, plans to increase its engineered SiC wafers in the coming years. Swedish startup KISAB provides wafer based methods to provide high-quality SiC wafers. These innovations may accelerate the global development of SiC in the coming years

In the strong market dominated by EV applications, SiC has a prospect of billions of dollars in the next five years, and is expected to enter more and more application fields. To achieve this goal, the evolution and innovation of ecosystems are the most noteworthy factors. IDM is the main business model of SiC. In addition, major SiC manufacturers are moving towards the module level along the supply chain. Strategy is to create value. At the same time, innovation never stops. Therefore, new entrants are bringing new methods to improve scale, throughput, quality, or cost.

Yole's analysts firmly believe that SiC is a rapidly growing market.

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