Toyota trials super-efficient silicon carbide tech for hybrids

January 31, 2015
Toyota has begun field tests of new silicon-carbide electronics systems in hybrids and electric vehicles.
Previewed early last year, the SiC semiconductors are claimed to reduce electrical losses in the control units that help manage power delivery between batteries and electric motors. As an added bonus, the chips are said to slash chip sizes by approximately 80 percent.

The automaker suggests semiconductors account for approximately 20 percent of a vehicle’s total power losses.

A Camry hybrid prototype uses SiC transistors and diodes in the power control unit’s internal voltage step-up converter and the inverter that controls the motor. The field trials will provide engineers with relevant data, such as voltage and current at various driving speeds, to help the company assess performance and market viability.

The company suggests the SiC components will be put to use “as soon as possible.”

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