Renesas has lately acquired Steradian’s radar technology; interestingly the startup is of Indian origin. With this acquisition, Renesas seems to be taking the driving seat as Indian Auto OEMs are integrating vital ADAS technology. In an exclusive chat with Niloy from BISinfotech, Vivek Bhan, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Manager of the Automotive Solution Business Unit, Renesas highlights the company’s strategic innovations to cater for the growing electric mobility space. Also, he underlines Renesas’ broad product portfolio from wireless BMS for EVs and their “Winning Combinations” which is the best-in-class compact 100KW inverter turn-key solution.
Renesas’ current offering in the electric mobility space targets newer and more innovative applications.
Market trends in the electric mobility space include ADAS and autonomous driving, high-power charging, distributed battery management systems, E-Axle solutions & scalable platforms.
In this strategic arena, Renesas offers a broad product portfolio to cater to these market trends, for example in battery management systems for EVs where we can provide smaller and more efficient solutions. We have system-level solution capability covering different battery cell combinations which are fully ASIL safety compliant. Our products boast industry-leading accuracy combined with Renesas’ signature high reliability. With the addition of our Bluetooth capabilities, our wireless BMS solutions can be complemented by our MCUs, PMICs, optocouplers and IPDs through “Winning Combinations”. These system solutions reduce customers’ development time/cost by combining our broad product portfolio which has been enhanced through strategic acquisitions.
Another example of our “Winning Combinations” is our best-in-class compact 100KW inverter turn-key solution. We offer a reference board embedding our MCU, PMIC, IGBT and gate drivers along with model and software drivers to support customer design in. We even built our own demo EV car to evaluate the inverter turn-key solution in a real car in motion.
How Renesas solutions address specific attributes such as low voltage and cost, functionality and efficiency, or high power and torque.
We have started sample shipment of our new Si-IGBT product using our latest AE5 process to realize a small footprint and low power losses for EV inverters (press release), thus making smaller and more efficient inverters possible. These Si-IGBTs will be produced at our 300mm fab in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan where last year we announced 90 billion yen of investment to launch a new production line to capture the increasing demand in the EV space (press release). We also expect the new generation AE5 products to be 10 percent smaller than our previous products while maintaining Renesas’ distinctive high reliability and robustness.
Indeed a robust strategic move to further foster the company’s EV focus in the market, hence kindly tell us about Renesas and Tata Group’s Tata Elxsi’s new Next-gen EV Innovation Center (NEVIC).
Tata is a very strategic partner for us to promote our solutions in India and emerging markets. In June 2022, Renesas announced the partnership which spans broad applications including automotive, IoT and 5G systems (press release). Prior to that, Renesas and Tata Elxsi jointly established NEVIC in January last year (press release).
As part of the broad partnership with the Tata group, Renesas and Tata Motors are collaborating on developing next-generation automotive electronics to drive leadership performance and scalability for vehicles with ADAS.
This collaboration aims to address the fundamental requirements, allowing customers to concentrate on unique features. Through these product and service offerings, Tata Elxsi and Renesas are supporting the acceleration of eMobility, particularly the two-wheel and light EV segments, assisting clients in overcoming time-to-market and technology complexity.
How is Renesas supporting the movement towards carbon neutrality? Also, Renesas’ has been known for its Power semiconductor leadership, how is the company targeting new potential segments like EVs with advanced power semiconductor offerings?
As the momentum for carbon neutrality grows, global demand for highly efficient power semiconductors is expected to increase by 200% by 2027 (Source SA automotive and Fuji Keizai non-Auto).
Our new IGBT products will contribute to reducing power losses in EVs and other markets such as industrial motors, EV chargers, UPS, PV and Wind turbines. Once our new 300mm production line at the Kofu Factory reaches mass production, the total production capacity of Renesas’ power semiconductors will double.
Renesas will continue to contribute toward decarbonization by enhancing its production capabilities for power semiconductors such as IGBTs and Power MOSFETs thereby supporting our customers to design innovative, higher-efficiency products.
As mentioned earlier, Renesas has also been investing heavily in wireless BMS, which offers advantages in maintenance and upgradability for EV batteries as well as enabling 2nd life applications such as energy storage solutions and uninterruptible power supplies thereby supporting reuse, recycling and decarbonization efforts.
What is unique about Renesas’ initiative named, ‘Winning Combinations’ and how it has been helping customers in their design ideas and processes?
Winning Combinations are expert designs showcasing Renesas’ complementary product portfolios of Embedded Processing, Analog, Power, and Connectivity which include a reference board, model, software, and design data. These solutions help shorten development time for customers by as much as 2 years.
Our winning combinations come as a result of the broad synergistic portfolio. They enable customers to minimize the process of design, simulation, production, and evaluation of their initial prototypes. This improvement in customer experience is aligned with our Purpose “To Make Our Lives Easier”.
Lastly, what are the current challenges in the EV space and how does Renesas aim to bridge the gaps?
The EV market is growing strongly, and supply shortages are expected in the future. The percentage of xEVs among the total vehicle production will rise.
To respond to long-term demand commitments from existing customers and secure capacity for growth, we decided to invest to reopen our Kofu fab with a new 300mm production line as mentioned.
From a cost perspective, Si-IGBTs bring better performance for EVs. To ease emerging customers’ demand, we also offer full-system Winning Combinations including the aforementioned inverter system and will provide modules incorporating our IGBT products. These will accelerate the adoption of EVs globally.
Key strategies and expanded focus of Renesas’ behind the latest acquisition of Steradian’s radar technology, interestingly the startup is Indian-origin, therefore, is this strategy to cater for the growing Indian ADAS market or will it be global traction?
This technology will cater for the global market, not just the Indian ADAS market. With the advancements of ADAS in the automotive market, automotive sensor fusion demand is growing to allow precise and accurate object detection of vehicles’ surroundings by combining data from multiple sensors, such as cameras, radar and LiDAR.
In particular, Radar accurately detects objects over long distances, day or night, even during harsh weather or other adverse environmental conditions. For these reasons, radar is considered an essential sensing technology for ADAS, and the number of radar sensors installed in vehicles is expected to triple over the next five years. To respond to such growth potential, Renesas is expanding its automotive product portfolio with Steradian’s radar technology (press release).
The acquisition will enable us to capture new opportunities in the high-growth automotive radar market. The addition of Steradian’s competitive radar technology and engineering talent will allow us to extend our leadership in the automotive segments. We will also leverage their technology for industrial applications to drive our mid- to long-term business growth in both segments.
As the first radar product, we announced the new “RAA270205”, an automotive radar transceiver with the industry’s highest accuracy and the lowest power on 16 November 2022. This is a 4×4-channel, 76-81 GHz transceiver incorporating Steradian’s technology to meet the demanding requirements of ADAS and level 2+ and higher autonomous driving applications. It will be available in 1Q/2023 in sample quantities, with commercial production planned for 2024. Renesas will also combine the new transceiver with other devices from its portfolio to support automotive radar systems. These winning combinations will include the “Satellite Radar System for AD/ADAS,” which will be available in Q2/2023.
Can you tell our readers how Renesas over the years has expanded its connectivity and analog products to complement its core processing products for embedded systems?
In the past 5 years, Renesas has acquired Intersil, IDT, Dialog, Celeno, Reality AI and Steradian to broaden our product/technology portfolio. Intersil, IDT and Dialog were predominantly analog companies offering devices complementary to Renesas’ existing digital, analog and power products. Celeno and Dialog both brought connectivity capabilities into the portfolio. The resulting broad analog, power and connectivity portfolio effectively complements Renesas’ strong embedded processors (MCU/MPU/SoC). Renesas has a key advantage in offering comprehensive system solutions that cover the majority of the signal chain.
At Electronica 2022, held in Germany in November last year, we announced good examples of our acquisition synergies. In addition to our first automotive radar product which originally came from Steradian, we also launched Wi-Fi 6/6E and 7 chipsets based on the Celeno technology, broadening our connectivity portfolio.