As part of its Reimaginestrategy to become an electric-first, decarbonized automaker by 2039, Jaguar Land Rover this week announced a strategic partnership with Wolfspeed to power its next generation of electric vehicles (EVs).
Jaguar Land Rover will harness Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide semiconductors to help deliver increased powertrain efficiency and extended driving range to its Range Rover, Discovery, Defender and Jaguar EV models. The automaker will specifically use Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide chips in the inverters that transfer power from the battery to the electric motors. The first Range Rover EVs to feature the new inverters will be available in 2024 followed by the new all-electric Jaguar in 2025.
Wolfspeed’s tech can power electric propulsion systems across the voltage spectrum from 400V to 800V. The silicon carbide devices are made at the company’s fully automated Mohawk Valley Fab in New York, which opened in April. As part of the arrangement, Jaguar Land Rover will participate in Wolfspeed’s Assurance Supply Program that secures the supply of the silicon carbide semiconductors for EV production. This will help the automaker prevent supply chain disruptions that could setback future production timelines.
According to Wolfspeed President and CEO Gregg Lowe, the company’s goal is for the silicon carbide to play an essential role in decarbonizing transportation through partnerships that help automakers like Jaguar Land Rover reach zero carbon goals. Traditional automakers have increasingly flocked to the EV market as high gas prices, government incentives and concerns about climate change have buoyed demand for the vehicles. Yet, range anxiety due to the limitations of current battery technologies and the overall efficiency of the vehicles are barriers to more widespread adoption. While there are a number of possible solutions to these challenges, using silicon carbide semiconductors is one method of enhancing the way that EVs are powered.
Although silicon is the most common semiconductor, silicon carbide has some advantages for powering electronics. Silicon carbide has a wider bandgap than silicon (2.3 – 3.3eV compared to silicon’s 1.1eV) which makes silicon carbide functional at higher temperatures, higher voltages and higher frequencies. Silicon carbide also outperforms silicon in thermal conductivity, which makes it more effective at dissipating heat.
The partnership has roots in the Jaguar TCS Racing team, which used Wolfspeed’s silicon carbide in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
“We are not strangers, having collaborated together with the Jaguar TCS Racing team for the last five seasons,” Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bolloré said in a press release. “By developing into a strategic partnership as part of our Reimagine strategy, we can integrate Wolfspeed’s advanced Silicon Carbide technology into our next generation electric vehicles, delivering extended range and performance capabilities for our clients.”
The partnership is one of several by Jaguar Land Rover to enhance its future vehicle lines. In February, the automaker partnered with NVIDIA to use its advanced automated driving system software in vehicles beginning in 2025.