By ABR Staff Writer – Automotive Business Review – Published: January 17, 2011
Toyota is expected to be on the verge of developing an induction electric-car motor which does not require rare earth metals for its electromagnets.
Toyota’s effort on this would allow the company to become less dependent on China, as the country is the main supplier of these metals, and might also defeat the last year’s price rise of these metals due China’s restricted supply.
Toyota global chief engineer Takeshi Uchiyamada was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying the technology that would allow the company not to use the magnets and yet to make a high-performance smaller size motor will come soon.
The permanent magnets used in existing electric-car motors are made from a rare-earth mineral called neodymium.
Toyota has taken many steps to decrease its dependence on China for these metals including the launch of a joint venture to explore rare metals in Vietnam.
Technology Metals Research Illinois founder Jack Lifton said the auto industry purchases 40% of the world’s supply of neodymium and Toyota buys more than any other company.
“There is about a kilogram of neodymium in every Prius,” Lifton said.