The rapid growth of technology over the past century brought us as many advantages as many disadvantages including the accelerating global warming with its dramatic consequences we face every day in various parts of the Earth. So far no one found a solution how to stop this process, but there are many solutions how to slow it down.
Today we try to respond to this challenge with carbon neutrality initiatives launched in many countries across the globe. And one of the major steps in this green society program is the electrification of passenger and commercial vehicles.
Right now, companies have various approaches to vehicle electrification including mild-hybrid electric vehicles MHEV, full hybrid electric vehicles HEV, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles PHEV, battery electric vehicles BEV, and fuel-cell electric vehicle FCEV. What some time ago seemed like a big step forward is a reality we live in now.
And to make this dream come true became possible with the help of power semiconductors. For a long time, semiconductors were used in the automotive industry, and the evolution of power semiconductor materials pushed the transition to the electrification of vehicles. Electric vehicles’ performance and cost depend on the technical level of the motor control system.
Previously, silicon (Si) IGBT modules served as the heart of electronic control systems with their relatively high switching speed and low conduction loss. But with the growth of silicon carbide (SiC) technology, EVs step into the new era of electrification.
Silicon-based semiconductors have been dominating the market for many decades. No wonder, several generations of power electronics engineers were passing their knowledge and experience working with silicon semiconductors. Through time they have short-listed their preferred solutions produced by several companies.
Based on the current requirements for the improvement of battery life and dynamic performance of electric passenger and commercial vehicles, higher efficiency, and fewer parts and materials are required to further improve the power density of inverters and electric drive assemblies. All this becomes possible with the transition from Si to SiC power devices. But when it comes to the all-new silicon carbide semiconductors and the rapidly growing EV industry, many face difficulties to make the right choice of the silicon carbide devices available in the market.
Recently I launched a poll to understand what is most important for EV companies when choosing a supplier of SiC power devices. Power electronics engineers from the semiconductor and automotive industries shared their experience and unanimously confirmed that the performance of the power devices plays a crucial role when choosing a supplier. The poll results are:
- Performance/characteristics – 66%
- Price – 16%
- Lead time – 9%
- Brand – 9%
Based on the results it is clear that for the EV market today characteristics of SiC power devices and price play the most important role. After all, consumers want high performance and reliability at affordable prices.
Nowadays SiC is still more expensive than Si. However, the prices have dropped a lot in the past decade, and the growing number of SiC fabs promises to drop the price in the future. Fingers crossed, in the nearest future, the dream of the consumers for the high-performance, reliable, and affordable EV will come true.