Delphi Technologies has claimed an industry first in the industry with volume production of a silicon carbide (SiC) inverter which enables electrical systems up to 800 volts, significantly extending electric vehicle (EV) range and halving charging times compared with today's 400 volt systems.

The technology, which supports multi voltage platforms, is an evolution of the company's proven high-voltage inverter and uses silicon carbide MOSFET semiconductors (silicon carbide-based metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor wide bandgap technology).

The supplier recently secured a US$2.7bn contract for volume production of this technology over eight years with "a premier global OEM". Launch is expected in 2022, initially for a high-performance vehicle operating at up to 800v.

The inverters will use Cree's Wolfspeed silicon carbide MOSFETs.

Inverters are one of the highest-value electrification components and their efficiency has an industry-changing impact on many aspects of vehicle performance.

"Doubling the voltage from today's typical 400 volts brings a substantial range of benefits, both for the vehicle user and for the vehicle manufacturer," said Delphi CEO Richard Dauch. "We have designed this technology to simplify vehicle manufacturers' multi-voltage strategy as they extend their electric and hybrid vehicle ranges."

The Viper power switch combines high levels of integration with unique double-sided cooling. These critical features allow the company to develop inverters that are 40% lighter and 30% more compact than competitor products.

The power switch range replaces conventional silicon with silicon carbide, a high band gap semiconductor that allows very fast switching and can operate at even higher temperatures.

"The faster switching alone will allow faster, more compact and lighter motors that offer great efficiency and greater range," said Dauch.

"That's in addition to the many benefits of moving to 800 volts."

At 800 volts, vehicle engineers now have additional flexibility to optimise other powertrain systems. Options include more range or a smaller battery; ultra-fast charging or smaller, lighter, cheaper cables; and greater harvesting of vehicle kinetic energy when braking, further extending vehicle range.

The new power switch fits into the same inverter package as the current switch, reducing engineering costs associated with a technology change and simplifying the design of multiple vehicle performance options.