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Toyota to Test SiC Power Units

January 30, 2015 in Electric Drive, Technology by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Street Trials in Japan on a Camry Hybrid and Fuel Cell Bus

Toyota says it will test silicon carbide power semiconductors on a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus in Japan this year, hoping that the SiC technology will lead to “significant efficiency improvements in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains.”

Toyota Camry hybrid prototype fitted with silicon carbide power semiconductors.

Toyota Camry hybrid prototype fitted with silicon carbide power semiconductors.

Power semiconductors are found in power control units, Toyota explains. PCUs govern motor drive power in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains. They “play a crucial role in the use of electricity, supplying battery power to the motors during operation and recharging the battery using energy recovered during deceleration.

“At present, power semiconductors account for approximately 20% of a vehicle’s total electrical losses, meaning that raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency,” Toyota says.

Toyota SiC power semiconductor unit under the hood

Toyota SiC power semiconductor unit under the hood of the Camry hybrid prototype

SiC Transistors and Diodes

The SiC power units create less resistance when electricity flows through them. Tests on a fuel cell bus with SiC diodes in the fuel cell voltage step-up converter, in regular commercial operation in Toyota City, began on January 9.

Tests of the Camry hybrid prototype, with SiC transistors and diodes in the PCU’s internal voltage step-up converter and the inverter that controls the motor, begin in February.

“Data from testing will be reflected in development,” Toyota says, “with the goal of putting the new SiC power semiconductors into practical use as soon as possible.”


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Source: Toyota with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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