The automotive industry is in a process of switching to higher-voltage powertrains - from a level of roughly 400 V to roughly 800 V in electric cars.

This process requires time, as there are not enough suppliers and - as we understand - and the costs are not yet at a level to switch the entry-level products.

However, 800 V is just another level rather than the final solution, especially in the case of the bigger battery systems.

According to the recent reports from China, BYD Semiconductor (a subsidiary of BYD), has not only developed but also launched on the market an all-new 1,200 V power device driver chip: BYD BF1181 (see manufacturer's website here - in Chinese).

The BF1181 chip is described as a magnetic isolated single-channel gate driver chip dedicated to controlling 1,200 V power devices - compatible with 1,200 V IGBT and SiC power modules. BYD Semiconductor is already shipping the BYD BF1181 chip to automakers this month.

We guess that it's not accidental, and the company is readying for a higher voltage in electric commercial vehicles like trucks and buses because BYD's latest e-platform 3.0 is envisioned for 800 V electric cars.

That might be the case, especially because the Western automotive industry is also working on a higher voltage solution for trucks - including 3.75 MW (3,000 A at 1,250 V) fast charging, tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Charging Interface Initiative (CharIN) event earlier this year.

It's difficult to say how high the system voltage might go in the future. In the case of cars, the current target of about 800 V appears to be enough. But if the electrification would expand to semi-trucks, battery-electric trains, and aircraft, up to a few kV could be desirable.

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