Toyota Motor Corporation is looking at testing silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors on a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus in the streets of Japan to increase powertrain efficiency.

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Power semiconductors, found in power control units (PCUs), are used to control motor drive power in hybrid and electric vehicles.  It plays a major role in the use of electricity as it supplies battery power to the motors during operation and recharges the battery using energy recovered during deceleration.

Current power semiconductors are responsible for about 20% of the vehicle’s total electrical loss.  The SiC has managed to reduce that number by creating less resistance when electricity flows through them and through further development may be able to increase powertrain efficiency.

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.