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Taiwanese and Japanese firms (2): EV business opportunities

Colley Hwang, DIGITIMES, Taipei 0

Many years ago, when Tesla came to Taiwan looking for technical cooperation, and Delta Electronics was one of the key partners. Later, Delta expanded its layout to include charging piles, and Rohm has proposed solutions to improve efficiency, with the pair expanding cooperation from traditional power supplies to EV applications.

In the past, Delta started as a tier-2 or tier-3 maker of DC charger (DCDC) and on-board charger (OBCM) components, and gradually built up its credibility and gained favor, allowing car manufacturers to approach Delta directly and upgrade to a tier-1 supplier. Now Delta can integrate components to achieve system or sub-system, such as invertor+motor, or DCDC+OBCM+invertor+EVCC, which is an important progress from being a secondary automotive parts supplier to a tier-1 player.

In the future, Delta calls for a collective effort to form an e-Drive System alliance, that is integrating motor, invertor and gear systems - the core drive system (powertrain) other than batteries.

In 2030, electric vehicles (EV) will significantly replace traditional ICE vehicles. Delta's vice chairman Mark Ko believes that even though people still have reservations about the price of EVs, in 2026, even without any government subsidies, it is expected that electric vehicles will surpass traditional vehicles in terms of price/performance ratio.

And range anxiety will no longer be an issue. Currently, EVs are usually required to have a range of 400km or more, and 700km or more is the future goal. When ultra-fast chargers that can recharge an EV in 10-30 minutes are widely available, or when there are batteries that can allow an EV to run 1,000km in one charge, users will no longer be troubled by range anxiety.

But Ko noted that if more than half of the cars sold in Taiwan are EVs, the electricity consumption of EVs could reach 10% of the country's current electricity generation capacity. The government must adjust its energy policy in line with changes in the environment.

Rohm's goal is to introduce smaller and high-power SiC-MOSFET products for the auto industry. The ones that Rohm launched in 2020 are more energy-eeficient than IGBT products, a major boost of EV's range.

In the face of the development of new-generation power semiconductors, Ko pointed out that the third-generation semiconductors have greater advantages in thermal conductivity, frequency and power, and therefore have attracted the attention of many countries. Compared to first-generation silicon and second-generation eGaAs, third-generation silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have excellent performance in high-temperature and high-current environments, and with the emergence of various innovative applications, third-generation semiconductors have a bright market outlook.

In particular, GaN has excellent electrical and thermal conductivity as well as higher electron density and electron speed, with switching speeds up to 10 times faster than silicon-based devices. For example, in fast charging, it is not easy to heat up even with high voltage, which is important for fast charging facilities of 100W or more. In terms of product application, it is not only suitable for noteboks and tablets with high voltage, but also for charging systems of cell phones and smartwatched.

The high voltage of 1200V is indispensable for wind power, solar power, energy storage, and new energy vehicle applications. The current battery power system of electric vehicles is 200-450V, and there is a chance to move towards 800V. In order to accelerate the time to market, close cooperation between the system assemblers and the upstream components suppliers will be key to winning in the market.

Colley Hwang, president of DIGITIMES Asia, is a tech industry analyst with more than three decades of experience under his belt. He has written several books about the trends and developments of the tech industry, including Asian Edge: On the Frontline of the ICT World published in 2019, and Disconnected ICT Supply Chain: New Power Plays Unfolding published in 2020.
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