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17 July 2019

SiC- and GaN-based power electronics to boost automotive semiconductor efficiencies and profitability

As hybrid electric vehicle/electric vehicle (HEV/EV) platforms become a greater proportion of the global vehicle manufacturing mix, the demand for power electronic components will account for over 55% of the total semiconductor demand from HEV/EV powertrains by 2026, predicts Strategy Analytics. Specifically, the Strategy Analytics Powertrain Body Chassis & Safety (PBCS) service report ‘HEV-EV Semiconductor Technology Outlook: What Role will SiC and GaN Play?’ finds that the emphasis on improving system efficiencies will dictate a move towards the use of higher-value silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)-based components, creating a window of opportunity for the automotive semiconductor industry for higher margins and greater profitability.

Silicon-based insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs), metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) and Schottky barrier diodes (SBDs) will continue to dominate the power electronics landscape, but SiC and GaN are starting to make in-roads, and will collectively account for almost 20% of the HEV/EV automotive power semiconductor market in 2026, it is forecasted.

“SiC is the more mature of the two technologies, with 650V and 1200V parts starting to compete with Si-based components for the main inverter as well as getting some traction into the DC-DC converter and the OBC (on-board charger),” notes Chris Webber, senior VP of the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. “However, we remain concerned that surety of material supply constraints as well as associated costs and yield issues could slow the implementation of SiC-based systems in the volume segments of the HEV/EV market,” he adds.

“Efficiency is key in choosing the future power semiconductor architectures for HEV/EV platforms, and SiC and GaN technologies certainly offer significant advantages,” observes report author Asif Anwar, associate director of the PBCS service. “However, silicon technology still has some performance overhead that it can tap into to improve switching losses and efficiencies, and this can be coupled with advances in packaging technology… Companies able to offer the full suite of technologies will be best positioned to take advantage of this growing power electronics semiconductor opportunity,” he believes.

The report concludes that the power electronics market for wideband semiconductors is at an early stage but offers significant upside potential for companies that are able to leverage the growing opportunity from the HEV/EV sector.

Tags: Power electronics

Visit: www.strategyanalytics.com

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