Cree to Invest $1 Billion to Expand Silicon Carbide Capacity

  • Expansion to generate up to a 30-fold increase in SiC wafer fabrication capacity and 30-fold increase in SiC materials production to meet the expected market growth by 2024
  • Five-year investment leverages an existing building (“North Fab”) and refurbished 200mm equipment to build state-of-the-art automotive-qualified production facility
  • Investment: $450M for North Fab; $450M for materials mega factory; and $100M in other investments associated with growing the business

DURHAM, N.C. -- As part of its long-term growth strategy, Cree, Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE) announces it will invest up to $1 billion in the expansion of its silicon carbide capacity with the development of a state-of-the-art, automated 200mm silicon carbide fabrication facility and a materials mega factory at its U.S. campus headquarters in Durham, N.C. It marks the company’s largest investment to date in fueling its Wolfspeed silicon carbide and GaN on silicon carbide business. Upon completion in 2024, the facilities will substantially increase the company’s silicon carbide materials capability and wafer fabrication capacity, allowing wide bandgap semiconductor solutions that enable the dramatic technology shifts underway within the automotive, communications infrastructure and industrial markets.

“We continue to see great interest from the automotive and communications infrastructure sectors to leverage the benefits of silicon carbide to drive innovation. However, the demand for silicon carbide has long surpassed the available supply. Today, we are announcing our largest-ever investment in production to dramatically increase this supply and help customers deliver transformative products and services to the marketplace,” said Gregg Lowe, CEO of Cree. “This investment in equipment, infrastructure and our workforce is capable of increasing our silicon carbide wafer fabrication capacity up to 30-fold and our materials production by up to 30-fold compared to Q1 of fiscal year 2017, which is when we began the first phase of capacity expansion. We believe this will allow us to meet the expected growth in Wolfspeed silicon carbide material and device demand over the next five years and beyond.”

The plan delivers additional capacity for its industry-leading Wolfspeed silicon carbide business with the build out of an existing structure as a 253,000 square-foot, 200mm power and RF wafer fabrication facility as an initial step to serve the projected market demand. The new North Fab is designed to be fully automotive qualified and will provide nearly 18 times more surface area for manufacturing than exists today, initially opening with the production of 150mm wafers. The company will convert its existing Durham fabrication and materials facility into a materials mega factory.

“These silicon carbide manufacturing mega-hubs will accelerate the innovation of today’s fastest growing markets by producing solutions that help extend the range and reduce the charge times for electric vehicles, as well as support the rollout of 5G networks around the world,” said Lowe. “We believe that this represents the largest capital investment in the history of silicon carbide and GaN technologies and production with a fiscally responsible approach. By using existing facilities and installing a majority of refurbished tools, we believe we will be able to deliver a state-of-the-art 200mm capable fab at approximately one-third of the cost of a new fab.”

The expanded campus also creates high-tech job opportunities and will serve as an advanced manufacturing workforce development initiative. Cree plans to partner with state and local community and four-year colleges to develop training programs to prepare its workforce for the long-term, high-quality employment and growth opportunities the new facilities will present.

About Cree, Inc.

Cree is an innovator of Wolfspeed® power and radio frequency (RF) semiconductors, lighting class LEDs and lighting products. Cree’s Wolfspeed product families include silicon carbide materials, power-switching devices and RF devices targeted for applications such as electric vehicles, fast charging, inverters, power supplies, telecom and military and aerospace. Cree’s LED product families include blue and green LED chips, high-brightness LEDs and lighting-class power LEDs targeted for indoor and outdoor lighting, video displays, transportation and specialty lighting applications. Cree’s LED lighting systems and lamps serve indoor and outdoor applications.

For additional product and Company information, please refer to www.cree.com.

Forward Looking Statements:

This press release contains forward-looking statements involving risks and uncertainties, both known and unknown, that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated. Actual results may differ materially due to a number of factors, including the timing of the transition to using silicon carbide devices in EVs; Cree’s ability to develop and design silicon carbide devices that will continue to improve performance in the EV market; Cree’s ability to develop and design RF devices that will improve performance in the RF Power market; the risk Cree may encounter delays or other difficulties in ramping up production of this capacity on time, at the projected costs, to the extent of the anticipated production levels or at all; risks associated with the transition of production from 150mm to 200mm wafers; the risk that Cree may be unable to manufacture these products with sufficiently low cost to offer them at competitive prices or with acceptable margins; customer acceptance of EVs using Cree’s silicon carbide devices; customer acceptance of RF power devices using Cree’s GaN technology; the rapid development of new technology and competing products that may impair demand or render Cree’s products obsolete; and other factors discussed in Cree’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 24, 2018, and subsequent filings.

Cree® and Wolfspeed® are registered trademarks of Cree, Inc.

Media Contact:
Claire Simmons
Cree, Inc.
Corporate Marketing
919-407-7844
media@cree.com