Bosch invests billions in its semiconductor business
They are considered to be the pace of the modern world of technology and can be found almost everywhere today: semiconductors. The coronation pandemic has shown what happens when supply chains also fail with chips.
Bosch wants to invest three billion euros in its semiconductor business by 2026.
“We are preparing for the constantly growing demand for crisps, also in the interest of our customers. For us, it’s big business down to the smallest detail, ”said Stefan Hartung, CEO of Bosch Dresden on Wednesday. New semiconductor development centers are to be built in Reutlingen and Dresden for a total of over 170 million euros.
Data on the share of subsidies in the amount of investments were not provided. All chip factories around the world have received funding, Hartung emphasized. Without funding, work in Dresden would not have been possible.
700 employees target in Dresden
In Dresden, Bosch is investing 250 million euros to expand its cleanroom area by 3,000 square meters in the coming year. This is where 300-millimeter production is expected to grow. In 2021, Bosch made its largest single investment to date in Dresden. About a billion euros have flowed into the plant. Currently 350 employees from 20 countries are employed in Dresden, with a target number of 700.
“Saxony was and is far away in the field of semiconductor production because there was an ecosystem of some kind here. Federal and state investments in this location did not take place somewhere in a vacuum, but were integrated into the existing network, said Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) of the German Press Agency.
Bosch is an important example for Saxony as a microelectronics site. “Silicon Saxony wants to continue to grow as the leading semiconductor location in Europe. To be able to operate more independently of the world market, it is important to expand production capacity in Saxony, Germany and all of Europe. »
According to the Silicon Saxony trade association, the new development center in Dresden with around 100 employees will make the location attractive to top talent from all over the world.
About 400 million euros will also go to the expansion of production in Reutlingen by 2025. A new part of the building is planned with an additional 3,600 m2 of clean room space. Overall, the cleanroom area is expected to increase from approximately 35,000 square meters now to over 44,000 square meters by the end of 2025. A completely new test center is planned in Penang (Malaysia). From 2023, ready-made semiconductor chips and sensors will be tested there.
By investing in microelectronics, Bosch wants to open up new fields of innovation. These include the so-called on-chip systems. This includes, but is not limited to, radar sensors, such as those used for 360-degree detection of the vehicle’s surroundings, for example in automated driving.
Increasing the range of electric cars
Another target is new semiconductor technologies. Since the end of 2021, silicon carbide (SiC) chips have been mass-produced in Reutlingen, which are used in the electronics of electric and hybrid cars. “With these chips, the company has already been able to extend the range of electric cars by up to six percent,” he said. Demand for SiC chips is high and order books are full.
“We are investigating the development of gallium nitride-based electromobility chips, such as those already found in laptop and smartphone chargers,” said Hartung. For use in vehicles, these chips would have to be more durable and withstand much higher voltages than before.
According to Hartung, Bosch spent about 6.1 billion euros on research and development last year – nearly eight percent of sales. This year it should be almost EUR 7 billion. 78,000 people are currently employed in research and development.
Hartung included the investment under the “European Chips Act” program. The aim is to double Europe’s share of world chip production from the current ten percent. Bosch’s boss spoke of a “super-ambitious goal.” The newly launched IPCEI Microelectronics and Communications Technology program (An Important Project of Common European Interest in Microelectronics and Communication Technologies) aims primarily to promote research and innovation.