Inside the 2017 Prius inverter

There is something deeply satisfying about taking complex electronic devices apart to see how they work.

Here’s the inverter (or “Power Control Unit”, as Toyota call it) from a 2017 Prius.

It’s an impressive piece of kit: two 3-phase inverters plus a DC buck/boost in a compact, water-cooled 34 x 21 x 19cm, 10kg package. The converter in the 2017- Prius is significantly revised compared to earlier units. It’s smaller, lighter and uses single IGBTs (rather than paralleling them).  You can find some more detailed tech specs here.

Dismantling the unit is tricky, as the cover is held on with some stubborn sealant. Here’s an excellent teardown video:

I had to use a sharp knife to separate the cover from the base. I also found that warming the cover with a hot air gun helped speed up this tedious process. The teardown video says it isn’t possible to remove the connectors without a special tool. I found the connectors could be removed just fine, though you have to be careful.

Once the connectors and screws have been removed, the logic board just lifts out.

In theory, this inverter could provide motor control, rapid AC charging and CCS DC charging all in one unit.

Unfortunately, the logic board is completely undocumented. I suspect the challenge of reverse engineering it will be too great.

We shall see…




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