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German Company Vitesco Technologies Announces $1 Billion Euro Deal to Supply 800-Volt EV Inverters to a ‘Major North American Automaker'

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【Summary】​German automotive supplier Vitesco Technologies has secured an order worth more than 1 billion euros (US$1.1 billion) from a major North American car manufacturer for electric vehicle power inverters. As part of the deal, Vitesco Technologies said it will supply “millions” of 800-volt inverters equipped with silicon carbide technology. The use of silicon carbide (SiC) in electric vehicle inverters offers better conductivity and cooling performance in high temperature environments.

Eric Walz    Jan 10, 2022 10:00 AM PT
German Company Vitesco Technologies Announces $1 Billion Euro Deal to Supply 800-Volt EV Inverters to a ‘Major North American Automaker'

German automotive component supplier Vitesco Technologies has secured an order worth more than 1 billion euros (US$1.1 billion) from a major North American car manufacturer for electric vehicle power inverters. The automaker was not named at this time. 

As part of the deal, Vitesco Technologies said it will supply "millions" of 800-volt inverters equipped with silicon carbide technology. The use of silicon carbide (SiC) in electric vehicle inverters offers better conductivity and cooling performance in high temperature environments, which makes them well suited for electric vehicles. In addition, the 800-volt system architecture results in shorter charging times and improved efficiency of EVs. 

Vitesco Technologies also announced plans to expand its global presence by setting up production facilities in North America. The plan calls for producing the high-voltage inverters complete with power modules in North America beginning in early 2025.

"With our portfolio, we are fully focused on global, scalable platforms for electrified vehicles," said Thomas Stierle, Member of the Executive Board and head of  the Electrification Technology business unit at Vitesco Technologies.  "This is where the growth is happening and it's also where there is real potential for the sustainable and increasingly carbon-neutral mobility of the future."

Vitesco Technologies is one of many suppliers of electric vehicle components to automakers, along with companies such as Bosch. In the final quarter of 2021 alone, orders for Vitesco Technologies' electric vehicle components totaled more than 2 billion euros, the company said.

In an electric vehicle, the inverter converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and controls the flow of electricity from the battery or from the battery pack to the electric motor(s). More importantly, the use of silicon carbide in the inverter delivers a more rapid flow of power if the driver demands it, such as during hard acceleration. 

By using a silicon carbide in an EV's inverter to control the current flow, more power is made available at the wheels. This allows automakers the option of using smaller electric motors without sacrificing power output. The smaller motors are lighter and operate more efficiently, which can help to increase an EV's range. 

Silicon carbide inverters also offer higher efficiency gains, because they produce less heat and are less temperature-sensitive, which is important for higher RPM high voltage electric motors to help prevent overheating. These inverters also have lower cooling demands and a smaller form factor, making them ideal for electric vehicles where size and weight are concerns.  

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The use of silicon carbide (SiC) in electric vehicle inverters significantly increases efficiency.

Many manufacturers of EVs, including Tesla and EV startup NIO Inc., are introducing silicon carbide technology in the inverters in their electric vehicles. 

Tesla became the first automaker to add SiC metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) to an inverter design the company sourced from its supplier STMicroelectronics in the Model 3.

China's Tesla challenger NIO also plans to use a new silicon carbide (SiC) electric drive system in its future EVs, beginning with the forthcoming ET7. In June, NIO announced that the first C-Sample of its new SiC powertrain rolled off the assembly line.

In Oct 2021, General Motors also announced a strategic supplier agreement with North Carolina-based semiconductor company Wolfspeed Inc. to develop and provide silicon carbide (SiC) power solutions for GM's future electric vehicles. 

The SiC technology supplied to GM by Wolfspeed will be used in the power electronics of the automaker's new Ultium Drive units that will power its next-generation EVs. Wolfspeed's silicon carbide devices will enable GM to develop more efficient EV propulsion systems that can help extend range.

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Vitesco Technologies is also supplying high voltage axle drives and power electronics to automakers.

Vitesco Technologies also said it received orders from one Chinese and one Japanese automaker valued at "several hundred million euros" to supply high-voltage axle drives that are manufactured and supplied as complete systems, as well as the necessary high-voltage power electronics.

In March 2021, Vitesco Technologies announced it will be supplying its 800-volt inverters with silicon carbide technology "in significant quantities" to automaker Hyundai Motor Group. The automaker's new E-GMP EV platform uses an 800-volt system architecture.

Up until recently, most EVs used a 400 volt systems architecture. Only a few battery-powered premium models, such as the Porsche Taycan and Lucid Air sedan, have an 800-volt or higher systems architecture

Doubling the EV's voltage significantly reduces charging times. Depending on capacity, it should be possible to charge the battery to 80 percent in less than twenty minutes, depending on battery capacity. An 800-volt electrical system architecture also delivers more power and improves the efficiency of the electric powertrain.

Vitesco Technologies is based in Regensburg, Germany and has almost 40,000 employees at around 50 locations worldwide. The company plans to play a major role in the electrification of vehicles as Tier 1 supplier to the auto industry. 

Vitesco Technologies was the powertrain division of automotive component supplier Continental AG until it spun off as an independent company in Sept 2021. The company supplies power electronics for plug-in hybrids and EV with integrated drives units, including for high-performance battery powered vehicles.

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