Wolfspeed to build its first European SiC fab with ZF's investment

Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Wolfspeed will build a SiC fab in Germany. Credit: ZF Group

US-based SiC and GaN technologies provider Wolfspeed announced on February 1 a plan to build its first SiC fab in Europe. The project, which aims to start construction this year, received a US$185 million investment from ZF Group, the leading automotive Tier-1 supplier.

The companies held a ceremony on Wednesday in Germany to unveil the project and another strategic partnership between them. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also attended the event.

According to an announcement, the new fab will be located on a site of a decommissioned coal plant in Ensdorf, Germany. It is expected to be the world's most advanced and largest 200mm SiC device fab. Wolfspeed plans to start production in 2027.

Reuters reported that the chip plant is a US$3 billion project with a US$185 million investment from ZF. The automotive supplier will have Wolfspeed's common stock and the minority ownership of the fab in exchange.

Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2023, subject to the European Union's approval. Wolfspeed said the fab will employ more than 600 people when fully operational.

Thanks to its greater energy efficiency, SiC has gained traction in adoption as the EV and energy storage segments take off. The German plant is a major part of Wolfspeed's US$6.5 billion capacity expansion effort.

The company opened another 200mm Sic wafer fab in New York, USA, in April 2022. It also started building a SiC materials facility in North Carolina that can expand materials capacity by more than 10 times. Construction is slated to be complete by the end of FY2024.

Wolfspeed and ZF also said they will jointly establish an R&D center to drive advances in SiC systems and devices for mobility, industrial and energy applications. The center is tasked to seek improvements like higher efficiency, increased power density and higher performances for electrification solutions.

The pair said they will invite more partners to participate in the innovation process and establish an end-to-end European SiC innovation network.

Wolfspeed and ZF previously formed another strategic partnership in 2019 for highly efficient electric drivelines with a SiC inverter.

Stephan von Schuckmann, a ZF management board member, said with the combined expertise in power electronics and systems, the two companies will be able to reach breakthroughs through the cooperation between the fab and R&D center.