Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Company said it planned to produce new generation silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors to help ease the global shortage of chips used in electric vehicles (EVs).

Hon Hai, a consumer electronics manufacturer more widely known as Apple’s main manufacturing subcontractor Foxconn Technology Group, is expanding rapidly into the automotive sector, targeting mainly the electric vehicle segment and its supply chain.

Earlier this year Hon Hai established a new EV division called Foxtron Vehicle Technologies which, it says, employs “several thousand” people and has developed its own EV platform to be used by third party vehicle manufacturers.

In August the company announced the acquisition of Macronix International Company, a leading local designer and manufacturer of non-volatile memory (NVM) chips based in Hsinchu to help strengthen its automotive semiconductor business.

Speaking at a virtual forum this week organised by global semiconductor association SEMI, Hon Hai chairman Young Liu said: “Long battery charging times, relatively short driving distances and higher [prices] than gasoline-powered vehicles hinder the swift uptake of EVs. We want to help our customers solve the chip shortage problems. That is why we bought a six-inch fab in Macronix.”

Liu reportedly told the forum research by his company showed that SiC technology “can help solve these problems, as semiconductors comprise about 30% of the manufacturing cost of EVs and that power chips are the key semiconductors in EVs”.

SiC chips are said to be favoured by EV manufacturers because they offer good thermal conductivity, low thermal expansion, low power usage and high energy efficiency.

Liu said Hon Hai plans to convert the Hsinchu fab into a manufacturing facility for SiC chips with a capacity of 15,000 wafers per month, as well as an R&D for SiC semiconductors.

Hon Hai also has a stake in an eight-inch fab in Fukuyama, Japan, and a stake in Malaysian eight-inch fab Silterra Malaysia.