There are two major disruptions currently affecting the future of vehicular transport and semiconductor technology. We are embracing a new and exciting means to propel our vehicles cleanly with electrical power, while simultaneously re-engineering the semiconductor materials that underpin electric vehicle (EV) subsystems to maximize power efficiency and, in turn, EV driving range.
Government regulators continue to mandate that automotive OEMs reduce the overall CO2 emissions of their vehicle fleets, with stringent penalties for noncompliance, and EV charging infrastructure is beginning to proliferate alongside our roadways and parking areas. For all these advancements, however, mainstream consumer adoption of electric vehicles remains stunted by lingering concerns over EV range limitations.
Complicating matters, the larger EV battery sizes that could extend EV range and neutralize consumers’ range anxiety threaten to simultaneously increase EV prices—the battery accounts for more than 25% of the final vehicle cost. Fortunately, the semiconductor revolution occurring in parallel has yielded new wide band gap devices such as silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET power switches that can help shrink the gap between consumers’ EV range expectations and OEMs’ ability to satisfy them at competitive cost structures.
According to Anuj Narain, a power platform manager at one of the leaders in SiC power devices, Wolfspeed, “SiC MOSFETs, on their own merit, are widely expected to add between 5% and 10% more range for a standard EV driving cycle as compared to existing silicon based technologies.” Because of this, they are an important part of the next generation of traction inverters in the EV drive train. If properly exploited with supporting components, their power efficiency gain could represent a huge step forward in building consumer confidence in EV range and help to accelerate EV adoption.
Electric vehicles (EVs) will gain more and more market share, eventually taking over internal combustion engine vehicles.