Yole Group Viewpoint – Powering the future: Semiconductor solutions for automotive electrification

Although the major EV markets are experiencing slow growth of BEVs, we are seeing a new wave powered by the 800V adoption, >3C fast charging batteries, and high-power DC chargers. Power electronics, especially SiC, are one of the key drivers.

We cannot hide that BEV growth has slowed in all 3 major markets, although we see different root causes. As shown in the adoption of  BEV among different customer groups, China is leading the trend. Remarkably, China has entered the early majority phase, while both Europe and the US are still in early adopter phases, having not yet crossed  ‘The chasm’ into majority customer markets. We conclude that the slowdown in China is mainly due to technological limitations in the battery. While BEVs can satisfy most user scenarios, they are still challenging in cold weather and long-distance driving (people still remember the hours or even days of standing still in storms during the Chinese New Year holidays). For Europe and the US alike, where wealthy early adopters are the base of EV adoption, however, the hefty price gap between BEV and its ICE counterpart still keeps these 2 markets from a large majority. We conclude that the slowdown in both Europe and the US is mainly due to battery supply chain limitations, which still lack local production and cost competitiveness.


Of course, it is worth mentioning some ongoing positive momentum in the global electrification trend, such as the rise of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (including range extender electric vehicles) for scenarios not fully covered by BEV; the rapid move to electrification in the developing world, with leading examples of Thailand, Indonesia, and India; the kick-off of electrification in commercial vehicle segments, including delivery vans, buses, medium and heavy trucks with short operational routes, and even lorries for long but relatively fixed routes.

With range anxiety and charging speed still topping the concerns about the adoption of BEV, 3 key factors will likely drive the technological trends in the coming years, where power electronics will play a critical role:

  • 800V architecture with the benefits of fast charging, high efficiency, and power density
  • Battery cells with optimized chemistries allowing more than 3C charging speed (or 20 minutes for fully charged)
  • High-power DC charging infrastructure featuring flexible power allocation, high conversion efficiency, and liquid cooling

For both 800V architecture and DC charging infrastructure, power electronics are the critical components. The most remarkable rise is the shift to SiC-based devices, including SiC MOSFETs in both discretes and modules. As a wide bandgap material, SiC is a better choice in high voltage applications, such as 800V architecture, that normally require 1200V rated devices in all sub-systems directly connected to the high voltage bus. Engineers are more familiar with inverters for traction motors, onboard chargers, and DC/DC converters. Meanwhile, we are seeing increasing adoption of SiC in 800V A/C compressors.


In previous studies, we identified 3 key contributors to the 800V adoption:

  • More affordable SiC substrate supply
  • Launch and acceptance of 800V vehicles
  • High-power DC charging infrastructure

All 3 saw positive momentum last year, enhancing 800V adoption. For both in-vehicle and DC charger applications, a critical barrier to SiC adoption is cost, which has been extensively analyzed and followed up in Power SiC/GaN monitors. Thanks to the enormous investments in the past years, new capacities, mainly for 6-inch wafer with improved quality, have been successfully brought to production, dramatically reducing the price.

Also, we witnessed a huge influx of 800V models in 2023, mainly from Chinese OEMs. As the most competitive EV market, China shows a clear preference for 800V architecture and not only for high-end models – 800V has started penetrating mainstream segments. End customers are seeing 800V as a new standard nowadays, even for BEVs.


A similar trend can be identified in DC charging infrastructure, which is shifting to high voltage, high power outputs in line with the 800V adoption in vehicles. Although ~900V DC bus voltage in DC chargers also requires 1200V rated devices, the chargers don’t require components to be automotive-qualified, meaning industrial devices could be used for better cost structures. As a trend set by Tesla, global OEMs are increasingly building their own fast-charging networks to improve customer satisfaction and generate new revenue. More detailed discussions can be found in the DC charging report.

Apart from the progress in power electronics, batteries are another key element in electrification. Studies at Yole cover both the supply chain and technological evolution.

With all the improvements we have noted in the past years, combined with supply chain planning and regulatory steps, a new wave of EV adoption can be expected after the current slowdown in growth. Power electronics, especially SiC, would surely be a crucial contributor to this trend.


Editorial contributions & press releases