Toyota Develops New Hybrid Fuel Economy-Boosting Semiconductor Tech

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
toyota develops new hybrid fuel economy boosting semiconductor tech

Looking to wring out more fuel efficiency in its hybrids, Toyota has developed a silicon-carbide wafer semiconductor that could boost efficiency up to 10 percent.

Automotive News reports the semiconductor has already bestowed a 5 percent improvement in test units, with the goal of bringing the new technology to market by 2020. The potential for 10 percent increases in hybrid fuel efficiency occurs due to less energy being lost under regenerative braking, and less energy being used to power the semiconductor in the first place, whose design enables an 80 percent decrease in size from current semiconductors.

The only obstacle to bringing the tech to market is cost, which the automaker says is “an order of magnitude” higher than regular silicon wafers. In addition, silicon carbide is difficult and costly to turn into wafers, being one of the hardest materials found in the world to date.

The new semiconductors are being developed in-house with help from Toyota Central R&D Labs and supplier Denso, and will be applicable in both hybrid and EV vehicles.

Join the conversation
  • Shaker Shaker on May 22, 2014

    This tech will come down in cost the more it is used. There is actually more benefit from this SiC tech for pure EV's than hybrids - the controller is smaller and lighter, and loses less energy to heat; thus it allows a (potentially) 10% smaller battery pack to achieve the same range. Since this device handles the "regen" energy as well, that will allow the pack to recover more braking energy. A "win-win-win", I would think.

  • Big L from Chicago Big L from Chicago on May 22, 2014

    A nice write up here. I'm gladdened that so much engineering effort is being applied to these and other enabling technologies of a cleaner future.

  • Probert Probert on May 22, 2014

    "being one of the hardest materials found in the world to date." - you haven't met my ex.

  • Wumpus Wumpus on May 23, 2014

    ??? This article seems to imply that more than 10% (of a Prius???) of a hybrid's enegery use is being wasted due to inefficient regeneration due to transistor inefficiency? Not the fact that they really can't effectively dump full power into batteries, not the issue that you can only regen-brake as strong as the hybrid electric motor, but the transistors used? Might be hype, more likely bad translation from the Japanese and/or technical. This ain't right.