Using a Toyota Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus,
Toyota Motor Corporation will bring a brand new technology to the streets of
Japan for testing in 2015. The tests will evaluate the performance of silicon
carbide (SiC) power semiconductors, which could lead to significant efficiency
improvements in hybrids and other vehicles with electric powertrains.
Power semiconductors are found in power control units
(PCUs), which are used to control motor drive power in hybrids and other
vehicles with electric powertrains. PCUs 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 pc of a vehicle's total electrical losses, meaning that raising the
efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase
By comparison with existing silicon power semiconductors,
the newly developed high quality silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors
create less resistance when electricity flows through them. The technologies
behind these SiC power semiconductors were developed jointly by Toyota, Denso
Corporation, and Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc. as part of the results of a
broader R&D project in Japan.
In the Camry hybrid prototype, Toyota is installing SiC
power semiconductors (transistors and diodes) in the PCU's internal voltage
step-up converter and the inverter that controls the motor. Data gathered will
include PCU voltage and current as well as driving speeds, driving patterns, and
conditions such as outside temperature. By comparing this information with data
from silicon semiconductors currently in use, Toyota will assess the
improvement to efficiency achieved by the new SiC power semiconductors. Road
testing of the Camry prototype will begin (primarily in Toyota City) in early
February 2015, and will continue for about one year.
Similarly, on January 9, 2015, Toyota began collecting
operating data from a fuel cell bus currently in regular commercial operation
in Toyota City. The bus features SiC diodes in the fuel cell voltage step-up
converter, which is used to control the voltage of electricity from the fuel
Data from testing will be reflected in development, with the
goal of putting the new SiC power semiconductors into practical use as soon as
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