General Motors GM and Wolfspeed, Inc. recently entered into a strategic agreement to develop and supply silicon carbide power device solutions for the automaker’s future electric vehicle (EV) programs. The U.S. auto giant also recently signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with GE Renewable Energy (“GE”) to evaluate the opportunities for enhancing supplies of heavy and light rare earth materials and magnets.
GM- Wolfspeed Team Up for Silicon Carbide Solutions
Per the deal with Wolfspeed, its technology will be used in integrated power electronics contained within General Motors’ Ultium Drive system for its upcoming EVs. Additionally, Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide devices will enable General Motors to install more efficient EV propulsion systems that will boost the range of its rapidly-widening EV product menu.
North Carolina-based Wolfspeed dominates the market in the global adoption of silicon carbide and gallium nitride technologies. Wolfspeed’s product portfolio includes silicon carbide materials, power-switching devices and RF devices targeted for various applications, such as electric vehicles, fast charging, 5G, renewable energy and storage, and aerospace and defense. Wolfspeed makes chips out of silicon carbide, which is more energy efficient than the standard silicon for tasks, such as transmitting power from an electric car's batteries to the motors.
In addition to having more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Wolfspeed is currently building the largest silicon carbide semiconductor fabrication facility in the world in Marcy, NY. Scheduled to go online in 2022, this innovative facility will drastically enhance the capacity for the company’s silicon carbide technologies, demand for which is shooting up in the EV sector as well as in the other advanced technology sectors around the world.
Amid the aggravating climate change concerns, automakers across the globe are transiting their fleet to EVs to enable zero-emission transportation. The rising adoption of silicon carbide as an industry-standard semiconductor for transportation supports the automotive industry’s goal of providing green transportation solutions. Silicon carbide provides enhanced system efficiency that results in a longer EV range, while reducing the weight and conserving space.
The latest agreement is beneficial for both companies. For General Motors, it represents another step forward in its target to achieve an all-electric future. The EV customers are constantly on the lookout for a greater range, and silicon carbide is an essential material in the design of chips used in EVs. This deal provides assurance for a long-term supply of silicon carbide power device solutions.
Moreover, the agreement showcases the automotive industry’s persistent commitment to bring innovative EV solutions to the market by taking advantage of the latest innovations in power management to enhance the overall vehicle performance. For Wolfspeed, this agreement ensures the long-term supply of silicon carbide to an auto giant to help them deliver their promise of an electrified future.
As part of the agreement, General Motors will participate in the Wolfspeed Assurance of Supply Program (WS AoSP), aimed at procuring domestic, sustainable and scalable materials for EV production.
The news of the deal comes as Wolfspeed changed its name from Cree Inc. Cree Inc’s shares previously traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, and the newly-renamed Wolfspeed will now trade on the NYSE.
GM-GE Deal to Create EV Material Supply Chain
The primary focus of General Motors’ collaboration with GE will be on creating a critical supply chain of vertically-integrated magnet manufacturing in North America and Europe, which both companies will use in the future to reduce carbon emissions. The companies will also join forces to create new supply chains for additional materials, such as copper and eSteel, that are used in automotive traction motors and renewable power generation.
Metal alloys and finished magnets are produced from rare earth materials and are crucial ingredients used in manufacturing electric motors for automotive and renewable power generation.
GE has one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry that provides end-to-end solutions for customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. The deal with General Motors gives GE access to reliable, sustainable, and competitive source of key materials and aids the company to lower the cost of renewable energy. This will help accelerate the transition to clean energy by making EVs a more affordable option for consumers.
A secure, sustainable, and resilient local supply chain for EV materials is the key to achieving General Motors vision of an all-electric future. The combined scale of both companies will enable them to procure low-carbon footprint, environmental-friendly, and cost-effective material for EVs.
General Motors, peers of which include Tesla TSLA, Ford F and Stellantis N.V. STLA, currently carries a Zacks Rank of 4 (Sell).
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