ZF Partners with NXP for Silicon Carbide EV Traction Inverters

More efficient 800-volt architectures depend on silicon carbide semiconductors.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

June 11, 2024

2 Min Read
Safe, efficient and higher performance traction inverters enabled by the GD316x product family can be designed to extend EV range
Safe, efficient and higher performance traction inverters enabled by the GD316x product family can be designed to extend EV range and reduce the number of charging stops while lowering system level costs for OEMs.NXP

At a Glance

  • NXP's high-voltage isolated gate driver family is integrated into ZF’s next-generation 800-V SiC-based traction inverters.
  • The collaboration aims at improving the safety, efficiency, range, and performance of EVs
  • The GD316x product family unlocks the benefits of high-voltage SiC power switches

Semiconductor stalwart NXP Semiconductors is teaming with drivetrain supply veteran ZF Friedrichshafen to provide the silicon carbide (SiC) technology for a ZF EV traction inverter.

NXP’s GD316x high-voltage (HV) isolated gate drivers enable the shift to 800-volt architectures that depend on SiC power devices. The benefits they provide include longer EV driving range and lower system-level costs for OEMs.

Traction inverters convert DC voltage from the battery into a time-varying AC voltage that drives the vehicle's motor. In SiC-based designs, the SiC power devices need to be paired with HV-isolated gate drivers to harness the advantages such as higher switching frequency, lower conduction losses, better thermal characteristics, and higher robustness at high voltages, compared to previous generation silicon-based IGBT and MOSFET power switches.

That’s where NXP’s chips come in. The GD316x family of isolated high-voltage gate drivers incorporates programmable control, diagnostic, monitoring, and protection features. Its high level of integration simplifies the system design, shrinking the overall size of the inverter.

“Our gate driver family implements a number of outstanding features to both protect and unleash the benefits of high-voltage SiC power switches, making them an ideal choice for ZF’s new SiC-based traction inverter solutions,” said Robert Li, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Electrification at NXP.

Related:Silicon Carbide Expects to Find Home in Electric Vehicles

NXP says that these semiconductors reduce Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) noise while reducing switching energy losses for better efficiency. Fast short-circuit protection times of less than 1 µsec, combined with programmable gate drive schemes optimize the performance of the traction inverter’s SiC power modules. 

“We look forward to working with NXP to raise the bar for the capabilities and performance of our 800-V traction inverter solutions, which will help us achieve our goals of reducing emissions and promoting sustainability,” said Carsten Götte, SVP Electrified Powertrain Technology at ZF. “The combination of ZF's expertise in motor control and power electronics with NXP's GD316x gate driver family enables us to provide our latest SiC-based traction inverters with higher power and volume density, efficiency and differentiation, and provide our customers with significant safety, efficiency, range and performance improvements.”

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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