Toyota City, Japan (May 20, 2014) – Toyota is using one of the hardest materials in nature (after diamonds) to develop a semiconductor chip it hopes will improve the fuel efficiency of its hybrids, such as the Prius, by as much at 10 per cent.

The company and its partners announced today that they have developed a silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductor for use in automotive power control units (PCUs). Toyota plans to begin test-driving vehicles with the technology on public roads in Japan within a year.
 
PCUs play an important role in hybrids and other vehicles with an electrified powertrain such as plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: they supply electrical power from the battery to the motor to propel the vehicle, and also send electricity generated during deceleration back to the battery for storage. However, PCUs account for approximately 25 per cent of the total electrical power loss in hybrids, with an estimated 20 per cent of the total loss associated with the power semiconductors alone.
 
Toyota said the new semiconductor chips would allow it to reduce the size of current automotive PCUs by 80 per cent and that it has already achieved a 5 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency in test vehicles.  Toyota aims to commercialize the technology by 2020.

The new chips, along with improved engines and aerodynamics, are key steps the company is taking to continue advancing hybrid powertrains, a technology it pioneered nearly 17 years ago.

For more information on the silicon carbide chips, click here.
 
About Toyota Canada Inc.

Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles.  Incorporated in 1964, Toyota has sold more than 4 million vehicles in Canada through a national network of 285 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships.  Toyota is dedicated to bringing safety, quality, dependability and reliability in the vehicles Canadians drive and the service they receive.  TCI’s head office is located in Toronto, with regional offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Halifax and parts distribution centres in Toronto and Vancouver.  Toyota operates two manufacturing facilities in Canada which build popular Canadian vehicles Toyota RAV4, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix, Lexus RX 350 and RX 450h hybrid.  Toyota Motor Manufacturing Cambridge (TMMC) also manufactures the Toyota RAV4 EV for the North American market.  TMMC is the only manufacturer in Canada to assemble both hybrid and electric vehicles.
 
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