Owing to the EV market’s substantial demand for longer driving ranges and shorter charging times, automakers’ race towards high-voltage EV platforms has noticeably intensified, with various major automakers gradually releasing models featuring 800V charging architectures, such as the Porsche Taycan, Audi Q6 e-tron, and Hyundai Ioniq 5. According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, demand from the global automotive market for 6-inch SiC wafers is expected to reach 1.69 million units in 2025 thanks to the rising penetration rate of EVs and the trend towards high-voltage 800V EV architecture.
The revolutionary arrival of the 800V EV charging architecture will bring about a total replacement of Si IGBT modules with SiC power devices, which will become a standard component in mainstream EV VFDs (variable frequency drives). As such, major automotive component suppliers generally favor SiC components. In particular, Tier 1 supplier Delphi has already begun mass producing 800V SiC inverters, while others such as BorgWarner, ZF, and Vitesco are also making rapid progress with their respective solutions.
At the moment, EVs have become a core application of SiC power devices. For instance, SiC usage in OBC (on board chargers) and DC-to-DC converters has been relatively mature, whereas the mass production of SiC-based VFDs has yet to reach a large scale. Power semiconductor suppliers including STM, Infineon, Wolfspeed, and Rohm have started collaborating with Tier 1 suppliers and automakers in order to accelerate SiC deployment in automotive applications.
It should be pointed out that the upstream supply of SiC substrate materials will become the primary bottleneck of SiC power device production, since SiC substrates involve complex manufacturing processes, high technical barriers to entry, and slow epitaxial growth. The vast majority of n-Type SiC substrates used for power semiconductor devices are 6 inches in diameter. Although major IDMs such as Wolfspeed have been making good progress in 8-inch SiC wafer development, more time is required for not only raising yield rate, but also transitioning power semiconductor fabs from 6-inch production lines to 8-inch production lines. Hence, 6-inch SiC substrates will likely remain the mainstream for at least five more years. On the other hand, with the EV market undergoing an explosive growth and SiC power devices seeing increased adoption in automotive applications, SiC costs will in turn directly determine the pace of 800V charging architecture deployment in EVs.
For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at email@example.com
As the global automotive industry picks up the pace of electrification, there will be a corresponding increase in the demand for nickel, which is a key ingredient for automotive batteries, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Incidentally, Indonesia has recently made gradual announcements indicating that it intends to terminate the export of such unprocessed ores as nickel, copper, and tin, and this restriction will likely have an impact on the global supply chains in which these materials are used. Indonesia possesses the world’s highest volume of nickel reserves (which refer to the total availability of nickel in the country), at 21 million tonnes, representing more than 20% of the global total. With regards to nickel production (which refers to the actual amount of nickel that is mined), on the other hand, Indonesia accounts for more than 30% of the global total. As such, Indonesia is the primary source of raw materials for NEV (new energy vehicle) batteries manufactured by countries such as China.
TrendForce further indicates that, as a key upstream material for EV battery manufacturing, nickel is primarily used for raising the energy density of NCM batteries. As EV battery development progresses towards increasingly high energy densities, the direction of cathode development has gradually trended towards nickel-rich NCM as the mainstream. Hence, the consumption of nickel in EV battery cathodes has been undergoing a steady growth.
As the volume of NEV sales increases, so has the installation volume of EV batteries. Take the Chinese automotive market as an example; cumulative NEV sales for the January-July period this year surpassed the annual sales volume for 2020. TrendForce expects annual NEV sales in China to surpass 3.3 million units this year (including both heavy and light vehicles), representing an over 140% YoY growth. Likewise, cumulative EV battery installation in China for the January-October period reached 107.5 GWh, a 168.1% YoY increase, while automotive NCM battery installation reached 54.1 GWh, accounting for 50.3% of the total EV battery installation. These figures would suggest that the growth of the NEV market in China has generated a definite increase in the demand for nickel.
TrendForce believes that the NEV market will continue to expand its demand for battery materials, including primarily nickel, for several reasons: First, the penetration rate of NEVs has been rising at an increasingly rapid pace. Second, EV cathode development has been trending towards a nickel-rich composition. Finally, nickel-rich NCM materials are suitable for fulfilling the automotive market’s demand for high energy density batteries. Indonesia’s decision to terminate the export of certain unprocessed ores may not have an impact on the global supply chains in the short run. However, going forward, this decision will likely transform the supply situation of the nickel industry, force battery manufacturers or nickel chloride suppliers to establish facilities in Indonesia, and eventually raise the added value of products related to the Indonesian nickel industry.
Nevertheless, whether the production capacity generated by the establishment of facilities in Indonesia can satisfy the market demand in time will depend on not only the quality of Indonesia’s infrastructures and electricity supply, but also domestic political environments, availability of labor force, and other external factors. Therefore, TrendForce believes that, in the long run, Indonesia’s export restrictions on raw materials will likely exacerbate the shortage of nickel and subsequently of EV batteries, thereby potentially hindering the rapid advancement of the EV industry.
For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Green Energy Research, please click here, or email Ms. Faye Wang from the Sales Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the pace of electrification accelerates in the global automotive market, and various governments worldwide implement subsidy policies that encourage consumer EV purchases, sales of new energy vehicles (NEV, which includes both BEV and PHEV) are continuing to rise as well, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. NEV sales for 2021 are projected to reach 4.35 million units, a 49% increase YoY.
TrendForce indicates that electrification, smartization, and automation are the three key determinants of the ongoing transformation taking place in the automotive industry. Guided by these three determinants, not only are the strategies, business models, and competitions of automakers transforming, but the automotive supply chain is also changing and expanding. Upstream component suppliers and downstream manufacturers alike are now operating in accordance with new paradigms.
High potential for NEV growth entices emerging competitors to enter the market
Now that the competition between traditional and emerging automakers in the NEV market is gradually intensifying, traditional automakers have begun releasing BEVs that are based on purely electric platforms rather than preexisting ICE vehicles. However, for the vast majority of mainstream automakers, NEV sales account for less than 10% of their total car sales. These automakers are therefore placing a top priority on expanding the lineup and sales volume of their NEV models. Emerging automakers, on the other hand, are instead focusing on expanding their production capacities, and Tesla as well as Chinese brands (including NIO and XPeng) have made their respective capacity expansion plans.
NEV sales currently account for only 5% of total automotive sales. As such, not only does the NEV market still have high potential for growth, but this potential has also attracted new players, which are mostly consumer electronics and IoT vendors such as Xiaomi and OPPO, to enter the market. Given their lack of competencies in developing and manufacturing whole vehicles, these companies are instead acquiring existing automakers or utilizing ODM services. Therefore, automotive ODM services are likely to ramp up going forward, while automakers and ODMs will continue building factories via joint ventures, sharing their technologies, and jointly developing NEV models.