Toyota
is working on a method of making electric-drive powertrains without using magnets that require pricey rare-earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium, and may start integrating that process into vehicle production within two years, Reuters reported, citing Japan's Kyodo News.

The world's biggest maker of hybrid-electric vehicles is trying to find ways to cut costs by reducing dependency on rare earth metals, which are expensive and which are primarily produced in China, the wire service said. The Japanese automaker is one of the reasons why Japan accounts for about a third of the world's rare earth consumption.

Finding a way to produce electric motors without magnets that require rare earth metals has become increasingly important, since production and demand of electric-drive vehicles are expected to surge during the next few years. Last year, government officials in China reportedly ordered three rare earth mines in Jiangxi, a province in southern China, to halt extraction. Jiangxi province extracts nearly 40 percent of the country's rare earths. China accounts for more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth production, though its reserves may account for about a third of the world's total, meaning that any reduction in China's rare earth production would likely result in nothing more than a temporary shortage while mines are opened or reopened elsewhere.

Last September, UK-based Sevcon said it would work with Cummins Generator Technologies and Newcastle University's Power Electronics and Drives Research Group at developing next-generation electric-drive systems that do not require rare earth metals. The group is developing a technology that uses steel instead of the contested materials.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 58 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      China has signed their own execution warrant by playing games with manipulating the price of neodymium. Hats off to Toyota for being the second big EV/hybrid company to flip 'em the bird. Sevcon makes effing excellent controllers and it is awesome that they will be on board. I heard that induction motors were a pain in the ass to control - sevcon has the expertise to make a programmable, economical induction motor controller happen in short order. Very cool :)
        DaveMart
        • 1 Day Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        China needs all the rare earths it can produce. They have not got some vast surplus which they are loosing export revenue by not selling. They are restricting it because they need it, not for the hell of it.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          That's not entirely true. My motor supplier said that his neo magnet cost just dropped down significantly. I heard this from others as well. Seems like the massive price hike was not a supply issue. Just like 5$ gas in the USA was not a supply issue either.. ( $2.89 for regular out here in Colorado.. was lingering on $3.30 when i left Oregon. )
          DaveMart
          • 1 Day Ago
          @DaveMart
          2WM: Price can waver up and down, but the Chinese authorities have got their sums right, industry there is expanding like crazy and they need to keep their supplies for their own use.
        george costanza
        • 1 Day Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        yes Japan has more balls than US now without attacking countries for oil and lying about real reasons. Taiwan just had election and US diplomat still influenced election by ensuring taiwan elect a pro communist chinese candidate and couldnt grovel and prostate himself before communist any more than he did to 'influence' voters...it was disgusting....really 'proud' day for america to have our diplomats kiss communist a$$!!! he basically said you better side with Communist China because US is weak!!!! which is true but still embarassing..yes thanks to mao mart shoppers China owns us and has its own middle class thanks to our not giving a **** about our own economy while bain capital kochs etc sell us out.....so that our middle class is non existent!!!! well done!!!!! overseas there are elec. cars which I see daily which are not even reported on sites like this...not imaginary but daily drivers!!!! which are not even sold in US....we are not a primary market any longer!!!! Taiwan is an example of how US treats its' "allies" now....as we are bankrupt so we leave taiwan out to dry..like we did to taliban after soviet left and after we armed saddam...if you have oil you are fu*(ed; we will turn on you eventually if you have oil!!!!!...taiwan has no oil; it depends on china....which depends on Iran....US is also fU*ed we have no resources which dont destroy our farmland and our water... US is also too stupid to be able to have a real threat about anything if it involves 'science' which we don't believe in, since 80% of grad program in US would shut down without' foreigners' as in all engineering programs etc which are all of course from countries which actually value education..duh!!! who would've thunk it????
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @george costanza
          graduated with electrical engineering degree, went on to become a systems engineer then rocket scientist, then while working, got an MBA with a 3.98 GPA (stupid Finance A-)
      Arun Murali
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well, there always used to be some awesome and efficient technology called Induction Motors.
        Chris M
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Arun Murali
        Induction motors are great, but the Toyota hybrid design would present difficulties, as it is difficult to control induction motors at very low RPMs, and almost impossible to get it to hold at a fixed position the way a switched permanent magnet motor can be. They could use an induction motor for one of the motor generators, but not the other. For that reason, it looks like they plan on using a switched reluctance motor, with the stator coils sequentially attracting steel lobes on the rotor.
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pretty silly post - there are many OEM's and suppliers working on this. Toyota is simply making a poor try at obtaining positive press, sorry, I'm not buying it. ABG - maybe you should ask for a refund!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        What is your experience in high-rate production of electromagnetics and power electronics? I'm guessing what you read in Popular Mechanics... Once you understand what it takes to design an automotive product that is economically buildable, scalable, and sustainable, you'll take back this uneducated remark. There is not an electric motor on any present or planned auto that demonstrates the electromagnetic efficiency of the PM motors used on the Prius. Moreover, the industrial investment in the Hirose power electronics line is so huge, with such a breathtaking record of ongoing cost and quality improvement y/y that continues to be the global standard. To recreate a product design and indutrial processes while maintaining reliability and cost in a 300,000+ vehicle line is far harder than what the average ABG lurker can imagine.
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Can't they make electro-magnetic motors?
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Ryan, what exactly do you think a motor is? Whether wound-field with nothing but copper and iron or the most exotic PM with samarium cobalt, they are all "electromagnetic". In any case there is a LONG road to making a modern car of any kind without rare earths. UV-protective glass, LCD screens, even inert gas welding electrodes use the stuff. Getting it out of motors, rotating sensors, and battery materials is good, but you still need it.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Day Ago
          And just to be clear... there is nothing "Rare" about rare earth metals. This is NOTHING like a scarce resource that is consumed en-masse like petroleum. The metals are generally recyclable and reusable. It is good to use less though, so I can see the appeal of getting reducing demand for these material since China currently controls a large share of the mining. The motor in particular uses a significant amount by comparison. But there is no need to be completely free of rare earth metals in automotive construction. The remaining components don't use a whole lot compared to the motor and batteries. And they are still recyclable/reusable. As long as we recycle and make use of the domestic sources.
      goodoldgorr
      • 1 Day Ago
      There is ways to control induction motors.
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here in canada they are speaking of opening rare earth metals mines.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 2 Years Ago
      AC induction motor. it works. no need for neodymium
        JP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        I wonder who the morons were that voted down your completely accurate comment?
          Turbofrog
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JP
          I know, right? I was going to post the same thing (but I guess I don't have Dan's reputation).
          EZEE
          • 1 Day Ago
          @JP
          Dan is a part of the auto downvoted club. He (me, ford, Marco, and a couple others) could announce, 'while driving me leaf, I stopped and rescued a kitten in traffic.' and get down voted.
      george costanza
      • 2 Years Ago
      GOP would like us all to drive flintstone cars, as in we don't need no stinking foreign technology or foreign car cos. telling us what to drive!!! when we all go bankrupt from driving hemis and hating oil countries that is fine...and we like it!!!!!. GOP should change mascot from elephant/christie to dinosaur. as that is what they are...they enjoy fact that on flintsones there were no minorities. women knew their places...and there were no elitists. all bedrockonians ate giant bronto burgers and were fat; no arugula there!!!.....good times. this is also about same level of cog. development that most GOP operate at. they are still in the anal stage as in they are all a$$holes. yabba dabba doo!!! GOP should not be able to use a social animal like elephant which mates for life...as GOP represent no actual conservative values...only brainwashing peons and using religion to manipulate weak minded people. also elephants are matriarchal families. and GOP hate women!!!!! maybe a snake would be good mascot like tread on me flags except the timber rattler on tea party flag is now extinct in its' natural habitat. nice one denialists!
        EZEE
        • 1 Day Ago
        @george costanza
        Yes, yes, that all has a lot to do with the story of Toyota (Japanese company) working on technology so they would not have to buy rare earth metals from china. Surprised you didn't make a Sarah Palin comment....slow day?
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 2 Years Ago
      Actually her jackson - I have a BSEE, have worked in the automotive industry for over thirty years, designed, built, programmed and started up R&D lab test equipment for electric motors and every other automotive component you can think of and many that you likely don't have a clue about - and, oh yeah, I also worked designing assembly automation for half a decade before the test systems, which also included in-line test systems. And for the last ten years or so, I have worked for one of the largest engineering SW tool suppliers in the world, and due to my interest in the industry, developed the knowledge to help the EV, hybrid OEM's and all of their suppliers design, test, validate and integrate their systems. And people from my company work with EVERY OEM and EVERY major supplier in the world - many engage me for my expertise in this field to help them understand what tools offer their customer's to optimize their processes. Customer's that I have personally assisted include designers/manufacturers of power electronics, batteries, cells, PHEV's, EV's, hybrid's and so on. So, yeah, clearly I don't have a clue compared to you obviously!!! Though I seriously doubt that you will "take back this uneducated remark." that you made assuming you understand my background or interest in this area! We'll be waiting!!
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      @alf So there! :D
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      They may have made progress on nanocomposite magnets (pg 48) http://www.nistep.go.jp/achiev/ftx/eng/stfc/stt038e/qr38pdf/STTqr3803.pdf Or perhaps they are licensing the Tesla motor: http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/04/induction_motors
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yeah well. This isn't actually a blog for auto engineering specialists. Its perfectly understandable not to know what the problem is.
    • Load More Comments