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Businesses everywhere are adapting to the urgent realities of climate change, and SK Group, South Korea's second-largest conglomerate, is leading the charge.

SK’s environmental commitment penetrates every facet of its business. The organization pledged to slash 200 million tons of carbon emissions in 2030, outlining a blueprint that integrates economic scale with environmental and social responsibility.

These efforts shine bright in the birthplace of American automotive, where SK Siltron CSS, a US-based SK subsidiary, breathes fresh life into one of Michigan’s most iconic industry. With the next generation of advanced materials, in line with SK’s sustainability commitments, SK Siltron CSS is playing its part in helping accelerate the global transition to zero-emission transportation.

This work will at once support the deployment of zero-emission electric vehicles (EV) and spearhead a new phase of American manufacturing – bridging Michigan’s rich industrial legacy to a sustainable future.

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A New Manufacturing facility in Bay City

SK Siltron CSS recently unveiled a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for silicon carbide (SiC) wafers in Bay City, Michigan. The plant complements the company’s existing manufacturing, research, and development center in nearby Auburn.

The expansion caps off a $300-million investment in the state’s advanced materials sector, pivotal to the EV transition. The investments are integral to meeting SK’s bold 2030 emissions goal.

Powering the Next Wave of EVs

Key to meeting that ambition are advanced materials like SK Siltron CSS’s SiC wafers, an integral component of modern EVs. They offer key advantages over traditional silicon wafers, the long-time industry standard.

SiC wafers handle high power and conduct heat more efficiently than traditional silicon, extending the driving range by 5 to 15% and slashing charging time. These enhancements lead to simpler system designs, weight reductions, and extended battery life.

This potential hasn’t gone unnoticed. SiC wafers debuted in the Tesla Model 3, but they have since been embraced by automakers like Hyundai, Kia, BYD, and Lucid. Forecasts project the SiC market will reach $6.3 billion by 2027, up from just $1.1 billion in 2021.

Addressing Manufacturing Deficits

Advanced materials are more important than ever, but challenges in the manufacturing world stymie progress. Supply chain disruptions continue to fuel a global shortage, as demand for these materials remains strong.

Many industries are impacted by these challenges, including the automotive sector.

SK Siltron CSS's investments in Bay City and Auburn is an important step in the right direction. The company’s facilities won’t just accelerate innovation, but also support these materials’ widespread availability.

Michigan’s Place in the Automotive Transition

Michigan is historically synonymous with automotive ingenuity. It’s fitting, then, that the state has a leading role in the next phase of automotive advancements.

The global EV transition finds tailwinds in policies like the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The semiconductor and advanced materials industry already contributes $4.6 billion to Michigan’s economy, and industry job growth is expected to reach 11% over the next five years.

Bridging the Past and Future with SK

This transition is exciting, but it won’t be without some challenges. Innovation always yields shifts in labor demand and employment patterns. To meet this challenge, SK Siltron CSS is partnering with local institutions to upskill and reskill the local workforce, ensuring it is ready to meet the demands of this transition.

With further public arts and civic engagement initiatives already underway, SK and it operating companies, including SK Siltron CSS are ensuring this moment yields sustainable, inclusive growth – supporting the community, driving innovation, and helping write the next chapter in Michigan’s automotive history.

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