Tesla Plans to Reduce SiC Content by 75% for Its Next EV Platform, so New Package Solution and Trench MOSFET Could Be Crucial in Achieving This Feat

2023-03-06 Emerging Technologies TrendForce

Tesla recently announced that its next-generation EV platform will reflect a 75% reduction in SiC components, though this reduction will be made without compromising vehicle performance and safety. This announcement is one of the very few specific details that Tesla has provided to the public about its plan for the development of its future vehicle models. Therefore, it has also trigger a variety of speculations across the automotive industry. According to TrendForce’s investigation, Tesla does not appear to have much confidence in the stability of the supply chain for SiC components. In the past few years, Tesla has been forced to initiate several recalls for the Model 3. One official reason given for the recalls was that the inverters of some of the Model 3 had power semiconductor components with minor manufacturing differences. As a result, these inverters could malfunction after a period of operation and would not able to perform the regular task of current control. This explanation directly points to a quality issue with the SiC components that Tesla has procured for its vehicles.

Additionally, a production capacity crunch for substrates has been the most significant challenge in the development of the market for SiC components. The major suppliers for SiC components and SiC substrates such as Wolfspeed, Infineon, and STMicroelectronics are currently adding a lot more production capacity. At the same time, Tesla is proceeding with the strategy of diversifying its suppliers for SiC components in order to minimize the risk of disruptions in the supply chain.

SiC components are certainly a key category of automotive electronic components that EV manufacturers like Tesla are going to consider when building their future vehicle models. Therefore, in the context of technological advancements, TrendForce believes that Tesla could adopt a hybrid SiC-Si IGBT package for the inverter of its next-generation EV platform. However, switching to such solution will entail disruptive innovations at the engineering and design levels, so this transition will raise many challenges. Also, regarding SiC MOSFETs that have been a critical part of today’s EVs, TrendForce anticipates that their mainstream structural design will transition from planar to trench. Currently, Infineon, ROHM, and BOSCH are the main suppliers for trench SiC MOSFETs.

On the whole, the hybrid SiC-Si IGBT package and trench SiC MOSFETs are technologies that can substantially reduce the total cost of SiC components for a vehicle. They also reduce the complexity and cost of an entire vehicle platform. These benefits, in turn, can help raise the penetration rate of SiC components in the low-end and midrange segments of the EV market. On the other hand, the widening adoption of SiC components could affect the market share of Si IGBTs.

In the market for automotive SiC components, Tesla has been acting as a major indicator of demand and product development trends. Therefore, the semiconductor industry has been paying close attention to this carmaker’s activities. Since Tesla has so far given very few details about its next-generation EV platform, TrendForce says more observations are needed to determine the reasons behind the reduction in SiC content.