The United States has lagged behind China and Europe in the production and adoption of electric vehicles, especially from 2017 to 2020, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation. A key piece of the puzzle in which America is dominated, however, is the production of semiconductors, which are used in everything from smartphones to computers to electric vehicles. Now, it may tighten that hold.
SK Siltron CSS, a unit of South Korean semiconductor wafer maker SK Siltron, announced Wednesday that it plans to invest $300 million and create 150 high-paying, skilled jobs in Bay County, Michigan, near Detroit. The answer is in a few hours. Country’s first automaking haven. The wafer maker already has a presence in nearby Auburn, so the new factory will more than double its employee base. Over the next three years, SK Siltron says its investment will provide advanced materials manufacturing and R&D capability for electric vehicles.
Jianwei Dong, chief executive of SK Siltron CSS, told Reuters, which first reported the news, the $300 million investment “will help develop a home EV supply chain based in Michigan as we have our end customers in nearby communities.” Huh.”
This new investment comes amid a growing lineup of new electric vehicles and investments in electrification from US automakers, including legacy companies General Motors and Ford, as well as upstarts such as Tesla and Rivian.
It is also joining the sticky pot of the trade war between China and the US.
China owned EV production globally, accounting for 44% of all vehicles made from 2010 to 2020, but the US has kept a firm grip on semiconductors, consistently preventing China from acquiring other chip makers. Used to be. According to the ICCT report, strong policies that invest in both EV production and spur demand have proved successful in both China and Europe. The Biden administration’s $174 billion in funding to expand EV subsidies and charging networks could help the country catch up.
“As we build toward a more sustainable future, it is critical that we build new, stronger supply chains in the US to support our corporations and the end consumer,” said the US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo in a statement. “The automotive industry has a tremendous opportunity with the rise of the electric vehicle, and we are excited to see companies like SK Siltron CSS expand to help support the transition to a greener future. “
The SK Siltron CSS expansion still needs approval from state and local authorities, the company said, though it’s unlikely to meet much resistance. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation said the state is trying to attract EV-related jobs, spending nearly $9 billion in investments over the past two years and adding more than 10,000 jobs to the EV transition. SK Siltron said that as it works with state and local agencies to find employees, 70% will be skilled workers and the rest will be professional engineers.
A wafer is a thin piece of semiconductor used to make integrated circuits, essentially helping to make semiconductor chips smaller and faster. The wafer serves as the basis on which the rest of the semiconductor is built, making it a critical component to the entire process. Electric vehicles require semiconductors because they allow batteries to operate at higher voltages, drive powertrains, and support modern car features such as touchscreen interactivity.
SK Siltron’s wafer is made of silicon carbide, which can handle higher forces and conduct heat better than ordinary silicon, the company says.
“When used in EV system components, this characteristic can allow for more efficient transfer of power from the battery to the motor, increasing the driving range of an EV by 5% to 10%,” the company said in a statement. said.
The wafers could also be used in 5G communications equipment, and Dong told Reuters that the company is also considering additional investments.