REUTLINGEN, Germany — Suppliers worldwide are investing heavily in silicon carbide microchips to help automakers hit their ambitious electric vehicle targets, spending billions of dollars to secure a stock of them or even make their own.
Robert Bosch is in the midst of a $274.5 million expansion of its semiconductor "wafer fab" here. The facility has been a hub for Bosch's microchip business since the 1970s. But now it is being readied to help the world's largest supplier make more silicon carbide chips for use in its components.
Like other automotive companies, Bosch sees the market for silicon carbide chips exploding in the coming years, growing by 30 percent annually as vehicle electrification ramps up and automakers shoot for ambitious EV sales and production targets.
"I started in the semiconductor business when [micro-electromechanical systems] were booming," said Patrick Leinenbach, Bosch senior vice president of semiconductor operations, on a tour of the Reutlingen facility. "It took more than 20 years to see a boom like that again, but that's what we're seeing with silicon carbide."