The semiconductors need to come in the highest quality, as consumers will be even more sensitive than usual for any issues of the new electric cars cites Stephan Zizala, Head of the business line Automotive High Power, Automotive Division, Infineon Technologies(Munich). During this interview, Stephan underlines the challenges and Infineon’s solutions to address the evolving Electric Vehicle segment. Edited Nub.
- What are the current challenges for semiconductor players in the EV segment?Electrified vehicles are the key strategic priority for our customers in the next years. Most of them plan the quickest and steepest volume ramp of a completely new technology of their company history. The battery and the power semiconductors are the key influencing factors for the reach, cost and performance of the cars. To be successful our customers need a semiconductor supplier that enables them to develop scalable car platforms, provides highest quality and can scale production very quickly to very high volumes. In 2018, Infineon supplied power semiconductors to 15 out of the top selling 20 electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles worldwide – proving that we meet our customers’ requirements globally. We have a track record in ramping up production volumes quickly. Infineon is the first company which produces power semiconductors on 300mm wafers. Therefore, we can produce significantly more chips per wafer than our competitors and we are in a unique position to ramp up our production capacity quickly.
2. There are evolving criticalities in battery pack system management, induction motor design, braking to radar systems etc? How is your company tackling to bring up a knowledge-based innovation in this domain?
Achieving a very aggressive time-to-market with limited development resources is a key issue for our customers. Infineon can help here with industry’s broadest semiconductor portfolio for electro mobility: From silicon IGBTs to SiC, from chips to modules, complemented with optimized drivers, sensors and microcontrollers to reduce development time. With our system approach, we enable the customer to react quickly to changes in the dynamic electromobility market.
3. IGBTs account for half of the driving system cost; they command 8-10% of the total EV production cost. How are you modelling towards Automotive-Qualified IGBTs for this segment?
The semiconductors need to come in the highest quality, as consumers will be even more sensitive than usual for any issues of the new electric cars. We believe that for an IGBT achieving just automotive qualification is not enough. We see this in all regions. One of Infineon’s core competences is meeting the quality and reliability requirements of electro mobility. Infineon was the first semiconductor company to develop specific electro mobility products more than 10 years ago. All of our experience is captured in sign-off and quality assurance rules which we apply to new products. By this, our products meet the stringent “Infineon Automotive” quality requirements and provide a unique advantage for our customers: less complaints! In 2018, Infineon shipped more than seven billion automotive parts worldwide. Less than 0.00001 percent of them were object of a customer complaint. Infineon’s quality is unmatched in the market.
4. Which markets do you reckon to be in-demand for EVs & HEVs?
China is and will remain the largest xEV market for the next few years. Regulations at state, province and city levels as well as subsidies for New Energy Vehicles (NEVs, including BEV, PHEV and FCEV) played a major role in the development of this market. In the next years, despite the reduction of the subsidies, we expect the NEV market to continue to grow, supported by the new dual credits regulation. China set the target to achieve a 20% penetration rate of NEVs in 2025. EU is today the second-largest market for EVs & HEVs. We expect this market in the EU to grow very fast in the next years also driven by ambitious targets to reduce the CO2 footprint. The first step will be in 2020/2021 when OEMs will have to meet a CO2-target of 95g/km on an overall fleet level. This represents a significant decrease from the 118,5g/km measured in 2017. And this gap can be only met with a significant increase of EVs & HEVs. This year, EU also set a long-term target with an additional reduction target for fleet emissions of 37,5% by 2030. One European OEM estimated that such a CO2 target could only be achieved with a 40% share of EVs. Other key regions such as the US, Japan & Korea will further drive the xEV growth, also driven by emission regulation. In the mid-term, India will become a key market for xEV, driven by a very aggressive target proposal for 2030. (e.g. proposal from The government’s think tank NITI Aayog to set the target at 100% of private cars to be electric from 2030).
5. Lastly, your flagship product in this domain?
In order to support the automotive industry in quickly building up a broad and cost competitive portfolio of hybrid and electric vehicles, Infineon has established a scalable family of power modules called HybridPACK Drive. It addresses main inverters. It is available in several versions optimized for different inverter performance levels. All of them have the same footprint, which allows system developers to scale inverter performance quickly and without a major system redesign. The different performance levels are mainly achieved by different cooling systems. The family already includes a module suitable for electric vehicles with a battery voltage of 700 V or more for ultra-fast charging. The next step will be a silicon carbide-based module in the family.