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The webinar was less technical than I expected and provides a good overview of SiC and its impact on various markets. They said that there will be 5 more webinars and it sounds like they will go into more technical detail.
Version 3 of Tesla’s Supercharger is supposed to be able to charge cars at a rate of 350kW or more, according to previous tweets from Musk. That would help the company keep pace with some budding competition in the space. Porsche has said it will build 350kW chargers for its much-anticipated lineup of electric sports cars, and Volkswagen has already begun building a network of charging stations under the Electrify America brand that can charge between 150kW and 350kW. Tesla’s current Superchargers have a max rate of 145kW, and its cars can only accept up to 120kW.
At some point during the day, they mentioned that they are growing silicon carbide boules with the long-term idea of creating their own SiC wafers. They are vertically integrated on the silicon side and would like to get to that point on the SiC side. Sounded like a very long-term plan.
One major issue right now is the shortage of SiC capacity across the industry. Cree needs to ramp capacity even faster or they are leaving dollars on the table, and worse, leaving a vacuum for competitors to fill.
Good points Slacker. The capex required for them to get into the materials game would be extremely big - it's an entirely different animal than Si as you know.
Slides 77 and on are definitely intriguing. I notice they mention SiC FETs all over the presentation yet when I visit their website they only have diodes in their product line. Wonder where they are with FET development? They're many years behind right now by not having the FET - that's where the real SiC "value-add" lies in the EV market.
Wonder if anyone out there knows what process changes are required for working with SiC vs Silicon.
Is it just different chemicals, with the same front end equipment?
My understanding of this stuff is about an inch deep. Cree has said that they have created custom (or maybe customized) equipment to produce their SiC wafers. They highlight that as a major barrier to entry for competitors. However, there are companies working to standardize that process. Aixtron is one that I know of but presumably there are others.
Cree has a big head start but I cant say for certain how sustainable that will be over the next few years. The extremely tight capacity for SiC gives customers/competitors substantial incentives to invest the necessary dollars to compete with Cree.