Shrinking the Size and Cost of Hybrid Engines

Sales of hybrid electric vehicles are climbing but, unless the prices of such cars fall, stagnation could follow. The solution, says Will Draper, is to use silicon carbide chips to reduce the size of the power electronics and increase operating temperature.

Published: 16-Jun-2005

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) represent a major challenge for automobile designers, especially in terms of their size, weight, the choice of electronic systems and controls, as well as the thermal management of these additional systems. For the HEV industry to continue to grow, these challenges must be overcome with efficient, cost-effective solutions. One option is the deployment of silicon carbide (SiC)-based components. This technology is already poised to provide a means to improve HEV system efficiency, while reducing the need for elaborate thermal-management systems that add size, weight and cost to vehicles.

Since the introduction of the Toyota Prius in Japan in 1997, worldwide HEV sales have grown rapidly year on year. In 2003 they represented 0.15% of the total automobile market, and in 2005 this figure is predicted to rise to 0.5%. Car buyers are now being offered an increased range of models. In addition to Toyota, Ford and Honda have joined the hybrid revolution and DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan and others are expected to follow with the introduction of their own hybrids in coming years.

The advantages of HEV

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