ZF Joins Silicon Carbide Powertrain Bandwagon With Cree

Silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics (especially inverters) are a must-have if you want state-of-the-art efficiency.

ZF, one of the tier-one automotive suppliers, announced a strategic partnership with Cree, whose silicon carbide (SiC) materials are selling like crazy.

ZF intends to use Cree’s Wolfspeed silicon carbide technology in power electronics for electric vehicles. The main area of interest is highly efficient inverters as each percent of efficiency gains translates to a higher range or smaller, lighter and more affordable battery with the same range.

“With this strategic partnership, ZF and Cree are intensifying their existing cooperation.”

“The future use of silicon carbide-based power semiconductors will increase the range for electric vehicles in contrast to today’s standard silicon technology. Due to high battery costs, the efficient electric drive represents an enormous growth potential for the foreseeable future. In particular, silicon carbide technology in conjunction with the 800-volt vehicle electrical system voltage makes a significant contribution to further increasing efficiency.”

According to the press release, ZF already has received orders for SiC silicon carbide-based electric drives from several leading global automakers.

“Cree’s technology will initially be used to fulfill orders that ZF has already received for silicon carbide based electric drives from several leading global automakers. Through the partnership, ZF expects to make silicon carbide electric drivelines available to the market by 2022.”

That, combined with other news, is just another sign that the EV market is shifting towards more efficient, smaller and lighter inverters, which are one of the ways to lower required battery capacity.

Even a 1% increase in efficiency can mean a lot, especially since with regenerative braking it counts in two ways. One of the most known SiC users is Tesla.

Jörg Grotendorst, Head of the ZF E-Mobility Division said:

“We’re delighted that we’re building on our cooperation with Cree using their Wolfspeed silicon carbide technology and are absolutely convinced that combining our strengths will further improve efficiency and competitive edge for our components and systems,”.

Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree said:

“Partnering with a tier-one leading global automotive supplier like ZF for the use of silicon carbide-based power inverters in next generation electric vehicles is indicative of the integral role silicon carbide plays in extending the capabilities of EVs everywhere,”.

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