New Technology Could Boost Lexus Hybrid Fuel Efficiency by 10 Percent

Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Drive

Toyota has developed a new semiconductor that will improve the fuel efficiency of their hybrid technology by 10 percent — from Automotive News:

The new semiconductors eat up only a tenth of the energy of today’s chips and enable the PCU to be 80 percent smaller, Toyota engineers said today at a briefing.

The technology has the potential to deliver 10 percent better fuel efficiency because less energy is lost when the battery powers the car’s electric motor or when the regenerative brakes recharge the battery.

The silicon carbide semiconductors will be applicable to hybrid or all-electric drivetrains and can be mated to lithium ion or nickel-metal hydride batteries, Toyota said.

Current test vehicles equipped with the new semiconductors are seeing a 5 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Toyota is looking to commercialize the technology by 2020, but the new technology is expensive:

Currently, silicon carbide semiconductors cost “an order of magnitude” more than silicon semiconductors. And because silicon carbide is one of the world’s hardest materials, it is difficult and costly to process into wafers, [project general manager Kimimori] Hamada said.

“There are still enormous technical barriers,” he said, adding he would be satisfied with achieving only 70 percent of his energy efficiency and miniaturization goals by 2020.

Read more about the new Toyota Semiconductors