Toyota to Trial New SiC Power Semiconductor Technology [VIDEO]

Using a "Camry" hybrid prototype and a fuel cell bus, Toyota Motor Corporation will bring a brand new technology to the streets of Japan for testing this year. 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 percent of a vehicle's total electrical losses, meaning that raising the efficiency of the power semiconductors is a promising way to increase powertrain efficiency.

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.

Test vehicles and period

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 cell stack.

Data from testing will be reflected in development, with the goal of putting the new SiC power semiconductors into practical use as soon as possible.

Supercharger Wars are Go: Nissan to have 1700 CHAdeMO chargers in US by 2016

Following closely on the heals of BMW and Volkswagen announcing a 100 station CCS fast charger network last week, Nissan have plans to install up to 1,700 CHAdeMO fast chargers in the US by 2016.

Since the launch of the Nissan LEAF in late 2010, Nissan has reinforced its commitment to zero emission mobility with investments in EV charging infrastructure to serve the needs of LEAF drivers in markets across the U.S.

Nissan has a multi-pronged strategy to invest with charging partners to install quick charging for owners in the communities where they live and work, as well as at corporate workplaces and Nissan dealerships.

Timeline of (CHAdeMO) quick charging rollout:

  • January 2013: Approximately 160 CHAdeMO chargers chargers installed nationwide.
  • January 2015: More than 800 total U.S. quick chargers installed and active.
  • April 1, 2015: 1,100 quick chargers expected nationwide.
  • April 1, 2016: 1,700 quick chargers projected.

    "Access to quick chargers that can provide about 80 percent charge to a Nissan LEAF battery in less than 30 minutes has proved to increase our owner satisfaction and get more buyers to consider the benefits of an all-electric car," said Brendan Jones, Nissan's director of Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure Deployment. "Nissan continues to invest heavily with our charging partners to ensure that LEAF owners have easy access to convenient public charging as they seek to maximize the benefits of their cars."

    For reference there are currently 140 Tesla Supercharger locations in the USA.

  • GM developing a high-performance electric AWD system for next-gen Cadillacs

    According to Edmunds, General Motors is developing a high performance electric all-wheel drive system for next-gen V-Series Cadillac models and maybe their crossovers. This system could make its way into other GM Alpha-platform-based vehicles such as the Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Camaro, and possibly a Corvette derivative.

    All-wheel drive has become a must-have for high-performance luxury car buyers, and Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are ahead of the game with their AWD-equipped vehicles. Cadillac, however, lags behind this trend, having just introduced the 455-horsepower ATS-V and 640-hp CTS-V, both rear-wheel-drive sedans. Cadillac is also lagging in its offering of electrified fuel-efficient models.

    An electric all-wheel-drive system, known in the industry by the acronym e-AWD, can potentially boost fuel economy in many future vehicles and help expand their plug-in hybrid offerings, however, the system GM desires is many years in the future.

    Joe Slenvak, director of powertrain electrification for North America at Robert Bosch, told Edmunds that adding electric all-wheel drive to the front wheels of a rear-drive car has challenges.

    "When you put the electric axle drive in the front, you have a lot of crossmembers and things that are in the cradle that you have to work around. It would be a little bit hard to do (but) I think you could do it," Slenvak said.

    Sounds like an application perfectly suited to in-wheel motors.

    Slenvak said a vehicle could be retrofitted to add that system. He would not say if Bosch is developing an electric all-wheel-drive system for GM's rear-drive cars.

    Source: Edmunds

    BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint Join Forces to Instal DC Fast Charging Network on East and West Coasts

    At the 2015 Washington Auto Show, two of the top automakers, BMW of North America and Volkswagen of America, together with ChargePoint, the largest electric vehicle charging network, announced an initiative to create express charging corridors along heavily-traveled routes on the East and West Coasts. Designed to increase the number of fast charging locations, the initiative will help meet the large and growing demand for convenient, publicly available electric vehicle fast chargers, including direct current (DC) Fast charging locations, and support the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States. In the initial phase, the aim is to install nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports across both coasts, with plans to expand the program to increase access to fast charging across the country. These newly installed DC Fast chargers will be added to the growing ChargePoint network of more than 20,000 charging spots in North America.

    With more than 280,000 electric vehicles sold in the United States, EV owners need more charging flexibility while on the go. The express charging corridors will provide electric vehicle drivers access to DC Fast chargers along the most heavily populated and highly-trafficked regions on Interstate 95 on the east coast, from Boston to Washington, D.C., and on the west coast covering and connecting the metropolitan areas of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The installations will occur both within and between relevant metro areas, strategically-spaced at a maximum of 50 miles apart, making it even easier to take long road trips in an EV.

    "A robust network of conveniently located DC Fast charging stations will go a long way toward increasing electric vehicle adoption and making electric vehicle ownership even more enjoyable," said Robert Healey, Head of EV Infrastructure at BMW of North America. "The express charging corridors are another important step in the development of the U.S. e-mobility infrastructure that makes longer distance travel a real option for consumers, particularly along the most heavily trafficked portions of both coasts-making the BMW i3 and other electric vehicles even more appealing."

    "Volkswagen believes in a holistic approach to e-mobility in order to create a seamless experience for the consumer," said Jörg Sommer, vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America. "The investment in the express charging corridor will provide e-Golf and other electric vehicle owners with the added support to travel their day-to-day and popular long distance routes."

    Each fast charging location along the express charging corridors is expected to include up to two 50 kW DC Fast chargers, or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers with the SAE Combo connector, used in both BMW and Volkswagen electric vehicles as well as many other electric vehicles that incorporate a DC Fast Charging capability. When charging at a 50 kW station, both the BMW i3 and the Volkswagen e-Golf can charge up to 80 percent in 20 minutes. Both vehicles can charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes at a 24 kW station. Locations will also include Level 2 chargers, currently the most commonly available public charging stations, which are compatible with all electric vehicles. Level 2 stations can dispense up to 25 miles of range per hour of charging, providing a full charge for the BMW i3 and the VW e-Golf within 3.5 to 4 hours.

    The DC Fast charging stations will be part of the ChargePoint network and can be easily accessed with a ChargePoint or ChargeNow card or with the ChargePoint mobile app.

    "Our goal at ChargePoint is to get everyone behind the wheel of an EV and provide EV charging everywhere they go," said Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. "With strategically-placed stations where drivers need them, these express charging corridors will give EV drivers the freedom to go farther and have an EV as their only car without limitation."

    Installations have already begun on the west coast, with the first location in San Diego County. There is a target of nearly 100 DC Fast charging ports in the first phase, available by the end of 2015. DC Fast chargers along the express charging corridors are expected to be installed in convenient locations such restaurants, shopping centers, rest stops, and more. ChargePoint will leverage its existing customer base and knowledge on usage to pick strategic locations either where drivers currently charge, or to fill in spaces where there is currently a lack of infrastructure.

    With the investment, BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint are providing drivers with the ability and confidence to enjoy longer distance driving and recharge their electric vehicles quickly, ultimately leading to greater electric vehicle adoption.

    Porsche Pajun Due in 2018/19 as a pure electric car

    Announced last year, the second sedan manufacturered by Porsche will not be sold until 2018. A source quoted by the German magazine Auto Motor & Sport says the small Panamera could become the first electric car from the German manufacturer.

    Apparently, Porsche believe that in four years time battery technology will advance to allow ranges from at least 350 to 400 kilometers.

    The E-Pajun is expected to be a four-seater significantly smaller than the Panamera.

    Track debut for 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid

    Extensive testing with the second generation of Porsche’s Le Mans prototype began on January 18, on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. As scheduled, this marks the start of the 2015 motorsport season for the Porsche Team. The new Porsche 919 Hybrid has already had its roll-out on the Weissach test track. As a next step, there will be several performance and endurance tests before the WEC season opener on April 12 in Silverstone, Great Britain.

    The new Porsche 919 Hybrid is a comprehensive evolution of the successful car that made its debut in 2014. It will feature the same innovative drivetrain concept consisting of a 2-litre V4 turbocharged petrol engine, an electric motor powering the front wheels, and two energy recovery systems. The new generation car had its first roll-out on December 15, 2014.