SiC chip specialist Wolfspeed is building a chip production and research center in Saarland together with the automotive supplier ZF.
Coal becomes silicon - more precisely silicon carbide. Because on the site of a former coal-fired power plant in Endsdorf, Saarland, the US company Wolfspeed wants to build the world's largest factory for silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors. The automotive supplier ZF is also involved in the project with a minority stake, as the Handelsblatt reports with reference to familiar circles.
In four years, series production of the semiconductors is to begin, and a research center is also to be built on the site in which ZF holds the majority. For the acquisition of the approximately 9,000 required employees, they want to rely on the good network of ZF, which is considered the largest employer in Saarland.
Series production planned in four years
Especially in times of tight supply chains, proximity to their production facilities has become an important factor for many car manufacturers. Because in addition to the CO₂ emissions saved in this way, the short distances are also an important component in securing production. This also applies to Mercedes, who signed a supply agreement with Wolfspeed earlier this year and are certainly pleased to be able to source SiC chips for their electric cars directly from Germany from 2027.
With the ramp-up of electromobility, the demand for SiC chips has skyrocketed. Because of the larger band gap of silicon carbide, the transistors made of the semiconductor material clock faster, are more heat-resistant and consume less energy than classic silicon chips. A real plus for the charge controllers and inverters in electric cars, which can achieve greater ranges, shorter charging times and smaller batteries in this way.
Wolfspeed is not the only chip manufacturer that wants to produce in Germany. In 2021 Bosch opened its semiconductor plant in Dresden . See the gallery above for pictures.
Within four years, Wolfspeed wants to set up a chip factory for silicon carbide semiconductors in Saarland and start series production. The automotive supplier ZF, which is also involved in the research facility there, is on board as a project partner. One of Wolfspeed's customers is Mercedes, who signed a supply agreement with the American chip manufacturer in early 2023.