Harnessing Silicon Carbide Technology for Enhanced Electric Vehicle Performance

12 Oct 2023

As the automotive industry undergoes a rapid transformation toward sustainability and efficiency, silicon carbide (SiC) emerges as a pivotal force, redefining the essence of electric mobility. 

The global silicon carbide (SiC) market for electric vehicles is projected to reach $9,031.2 million by 2032 from $513.0 million in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 33.02% during the forecast period 2023-2032.  

The synergy between electric vehicle manufacturers, semiconductor enterprises, and research institutions drives the evolution of SiC technology, yielding ongoing progress and cost efficiencies. 

However, the silicon carbide market for EVs is still in the nascent phase. Presently, the price of SiC is high, which has an impact on its widespread integration and adoption. 

What is silicon carbide technology?

Silicon carbide (SiC) technology is a semiconductor technology that is being used to improve the efficiency and performance of electric vehicles (EVs). The inception of employing SiC within electric vehicles (EVs) originated from a concerted drive to elevate both the efficiency and range of these vehicles, concurrently diminishing vehicle weight and cost and thereby augmenting the power density of control electronics.

SiC solutions wield the potential to substantially enhance the power electronics systems employed in EVs, aligning seamlessly with design criteria and delivering an indispensable boost to overall system performance and long-term reliability. 

Benefits of Silicon Carbide over Silicon

Silicon carbide products boast roughly three times the thermal conductivity of silicon, enabling swifter dissipation of heat emanating from components. This feature gains significance as silicon devices continue to shrink in terms of surface area, making the efficient dissipation of heat a paramount consideration, a challenge that SiC adeptly addresses. 

In addition to this, a study by Wolfspeed found that SiC devices can increase the driving range of an EV by up to 10%.

SiC devices have a number of advantages over traditional silicon devices, including:
•    SiC devices can enable EV chargers to operate at higher power levels, which can reduce charging times by up to 50%. 
•    The higher efficiency of SiC devices allows EV manufacturers to use smaller batteries, which can reduce the cost and weight of EVs.

Silicon Carbide for Electric Vehicle Chargers

SiC plays a pivotal role in the realm of electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Silicon carbide semiconductors offer a multitude of advantages that contribute to the efficiency, performance, and overall effectiveness of these charging systems. 

In July 2023, Infineon Technologies announced the development of a new SiC module that was designed for EV onboard chargers. The new module is expected to be smaller, lighter, and more efficient than previous generations of SiC modules.

By substituting SiC devices within the AC/DC section of the charger, a significant increase in circuit design, as well as power density and, consequently, efficiency, can be achieved. Moreover, the introduction of the SiC block also introduces bidirectional capabilities, a prerequisite for integrating the vehicle battery into a smart grid infrastructure.

Recent Developments in the Silicon Carbide Market for Electric Vehicles

Silicon Carbide technology is poised to play an increasingly pivotal role in advancing the performance, efficiency, and sustainability of electric vehicles as the EV market continues to expand and evolve. 

Here are some recent developments in the silicon carbide market for electric vehicles: 

•    Wolfspeed, a leading manufacturer of SiC devices, announced in September 2023 that it would build a new 200 mm SiC wafer fabrication facility in Chatham County, North Carolina. 
•    Wolfspeed, in April 2023, announced to provide silicon carbide devices to power future Mercedes-Benz EV platforms, enabling higher powertrain efficiency.  
•    Mitsubishi Electric, in March 2023, announced an investment of $1.87 billion in the next five years. This investment aimed to boost the production capacity of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors and to construct a new wafer plant. 


According to Dhrubajyoti Narayan, Principal Analyst, BIS Research, “The silicon carbide (SiC) market for electric vehicles (EVs) is likely to grow multi-fold during the forecast period, owing to the various advantages silicon carbide (SiC) materials have to offer over silicon and growing investment to bolster SiC manufacturing capabilities.” 

Additionally, the established SiC manufacturers are expected to face stiff competition from established and emerging silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing companies that are entering the automotive/electric vehicle industry.