SK Holdings, the holding entity of South Korea’s third largest conglomerate SK Group, has acquired a 33.6 percent stake in local SiC power chip maker Yes Power Technix for 26.8 billion won ($24 million), spurring efforts to make forays into the promising electric vehicle parts market.
The latest stake investment came after SK Holdings vowed to focus its investment into advanced materials, green energy, biopharmaceuticals and digital capabilities this year.
“SK Group will speed up the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESD) drive with the latest investment to reduce Korea’s dependence on SiC imports and enhance market leadership,” said a SK Holdings official.
Silicon Carbide (SiC) semiconductor is innovative, new options for improved system efficiency, higher operating temperature and reduced costs for designs. They are widely used in electronic goods, electronic vehicles, hydrogen cars and 5G networks as a core chip for power transition.
Tesla’s Model 3 EV featured the SiC devices in 2018 for the first time among its vehicle lineup.
Technological barriers for production of the SiC chips, however, are higher compared to silicon-based chips, allowing only a few players to dominate the global market. But the global SiC semiconductor market is poised to grow fast at an annual rate of 32 percent, hitting $10 billion in 2030 from $700 million in 2020 thanks to burgeoning demand for EV and other green car options, according to market research firms IHS Markit and Yole Development.
Yes Power Technix, founded in 2017, has technical prowess in SiC chip production with a focus on a small batch production tailored for each customer’s demands. This is the only Korean SiC manufacturer with production lines applied with the high-temperature process. The annual output of its Pohang plant reaches a maximum 14,400 SiC wafers, capable of powering 140,000 electric vehicles.
SK Holdings shares fell 3.42 percent to close Friday at 311,000 won in Seoul.
By Lee Yoon-jae and Lee Ha-yeon