Minutes after making the announcement that Wolfspeed would invest in a huge new manufacturing plant in Chatham County, CEO Gregg Lowe talked to WRAL’s Debra Morgan about why the company chose to locate this new plant in North Carolina and what sets the tech to be built there apart.
Lowe called the transformation from chips made of silicon to those made of silicon carbide a once-in-a generation innovation, saying Wolfspeed is poised to lead that revolution.
“It’s definitely not for the faint of heart because we are attempting to do things that are kind of unprecedented,” he said.
The new chips will increase efficiency specifically for electric vehicles, allowing them to go faster, charge faster and travel farther on a single charge.
“I can add 300 miles of additional range in 20 minutes of charging at one of these fast- charging locations,” Lowe said.
The new plant will take advantage of an educated workforce. Lowe cited the local universities as a draw.
“We’re going to need engineers and technicians and people with that technical background. It just gives us a really good feel for how we’re going to develop the workforce over this next decade,” he said.
The company has committed to create more than 1,800 jobs paying $77,000 a year on average, a number Lowe expects to easily hit.
“The demand for EVs and the adoption of EVs is happening faster than people expected. The adoption of silicon carbide inside of EVs is happening faster than anyone expected, and customers choosing to go with us versus others is happening more than we anticipated. So you have those three trends. That’s giving us a huge tailwind,” he said.
The demand is so great that Wolfspeed won’t waste any time.
“We announced today,” Lowe said on Friday. “We will be on that site on Monday. We are going to take the weekend to take a little bit of a break here, but Monday we’re going to start breaking ground and we anticipate that we’ll actually have the structure built and begin initial manufacturing there in January of 2024.”
Lowe says electric vehicles are only the beginning for the silicon carbide chips.
“We’re very, very bullish about the future,” he said, noting applications for personal watercraft, drones and other aerial vehicles and inventions yet to be discovered.
“I think that tidal wave is coming, and it’s unstoppable,” he said.