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For the third-generation hybrid system powering the Fusion Hybrid and C-MAX Hybrid, Ford expects to be using about 500,000 pounds a year less of expensive and uncommon rare earth metals. Reduction of rare earth metals in the lithium-ion batteries and the hybrid system's electric machines lowers vehicle costs as Ford ramps up its production of hybrids and electric vehicles over the next years, allowing the automaker to offer more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle choices to customers. Of course, since the reduction is partly due to the shift from nickel-metal hydride batteries to more efficient li-ion packs, this is in some ways an apples-to-oranges comparision.

The rare earth metals neodymium, cerium, lanthanum and praseodymium were used in previous editions of Ford hybrids with their NiMH batteries. None of those four are used in Ford's new lithium-ion batteries. Ford is also reducing by 50 percent the amount of the most expensive rare earth metals that it acquires, dysprosium, by implementing a new diffusion process used in the magnetic manufacturing process of the magnets employed in the hybrid system's electric machines.

Ford says the reduction of rare earth metals is important for both financial and physical reasons. The cost for the lithium-ion batteries for Ford's third-generation hybrid systems is reduced 30 percent from the previously used NiMH batteries. They weigh less (by about 50 percent) and don't need as much storage space since they are 25 to 30 percent smaller. This means better fuel efficiency – a projected 47 mpg for Fusion Hybrid and an EPA-certified 47 mpg for C-MAX Hybrid.

In its press release, Ford neglected to mention yet another reason for reducing rare earth metals: geopolitics. About 95 percent of rare earth metals come from China. China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology can ban or severely limit the amount that will leave the country, a power that can be quite stressful for automakers needing access to the metals for their hybrids and electric vehicles.
Show full PR text
Ford's New Li-Ion Batteries Reduce Use of Rare Earth Metals, Enable Superior Fuel Economy for Fusion, C-MAX Hybrids
  • New projected 47-mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid and EPA-certified 47-mpg C-MAX Hybrid feature lighter, more efficient, more powerful lithium-ion batteries that are expected to reduce Ford's use of expensive, rare earth metals by up to 500,000 pounds annually
  • Dysprosium, the most expensive rare earth metal used in Ford vehicles, is reduced by approximately 50 percent in new Fusion and C-MAX hybrids' electric machines
  • These rare earth metal reductions helped Ford cut the cost of its third-generation hybrid technology by 30 percent, adding to the overall value of the new C-MAX Hybrid – America's most affordable hybrid utility vehicle starting at $25,995 – and Fusion Hybrid
DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 13, 2012 – Ford's third-generation hybrid system, which replaces nickel-metal-hydride batteries with new lighter, more efficient lithium-ion batteries, could reduce the company's use of expensive, less-abundant rare earth metals by up to 500,000 pounds a year.

This reduction of rare earth metals is important for both financial and physical reasons. First, the cost is reduced by 30 percent when compared to previous-generation hybrid batteries. Also, lithium-ion batteries are 50 percent lighter and 25 to 30 percent smaller. The result: Better fuel efficiency in Ford's new electric vehicle offerings, including a projected 47 mpg for Fusion Hybrid and an EPA-certified 47 mpg for C-MAX Hybrid.

"We're continually looking to find ways to provide greater fuel efficiency as well as cost savings to customers of our hybrid vehicles, and the reduction of rare earth metals is a key part of this strategy," said Chuck Gray, chief engineer, Global Core Engineering, Hybrid and Electric Vehicles."The third-generation hybrid technology we are now using builds on our 20 years of electric vehicle innovations."

Among the rare earth metals used in nickel-metal-hydride batteries are neodymium, cerium, lanthanum and praseodymium, none of which are used in the new lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, Ford has reduced its use of dysprosium by approximately 50 percent in magnets employed in the hybrid system's electric machines. Dysprosium is the most expensive rare earth metal used in Ford vehicles. This reduction is the result of a new diffusion process that is used in the magnet manufacturing process.

The overall reduction of rare earth metals in the lithium-ion batteries and electric machines lowers vehicle costs, which is key as Ford triples production of its electric vehicles by 2013, ultimately translating to more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle choices for customers.

Rare earth metals are a set of 17 atomic elements in the periodic table. While some are indeed rare, others are plentiful within specific regions in the earth's crust. These metals are used in many consumer products including mobile phones, LED televisions, computer screens and hybrid vehicle batteries.

Maximum power of choice
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is projected to deliver best-in-class 47 mpg on the highway, making it America's most fuel-efficient sedan. The new Fusion will also give customers the power to choose across three powertrain options – gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Ford's all-new C-MAX Hybrid, in showrooms this fall, is EPA-certified at 47 mpg on the highway, 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg combined, making it America's most fuel-efficient hybrid utility vehicle. C-MAX Energi, launching later this fall, is projected to deliver 95 MPGe.

Press releases, videos, photos and other material related to Ford's electrified vehicles can be found here.

# # #

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 168,000 employees and about 65 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      brotherkenny4
      • 2 Years Ago
      Li ion batteries don't use rare earth metals. They are mostly used in the motors (the permanent magnet motor). Induction motors are getting better. China has 95% of the rare earth production, but not 95% of the world resource. There is plenty of rare earths on every continent, but one country has dominated the market. China in commodity markets is really predictable. They undercut everyone on price until it's unprofitable to continue and once they have everyone else out they jack up the price. They are not real companies, but extensions of the government, and they are willing to take a loss temporarily while they knock out the competition. By the way, yes, Li ion will eventually be less expensive than NiMH batteries and have higher capacity and be lighter. Say goodbye NiMH
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        I dont think the chinese govt has got the time or patience back in the 80's-90's-2k's to develop these mines with a plan of losing money for decades until the entire global industry withers away and then raise prices. That's actually a very stupid business and/or political plan. It's like saying cocacola would give away free cokes until the whole beverage industry dies off with coke having a monopoly and then they can jack up prices. Monopolys only works on a regional level when one person already has an overwhelming majority of the market and undercuts smaller rivals selling to a customer. China back in the 80's did not have 90+% of the market and did not sell at a loss just to screw the world.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        The reason that they were able to undercut everyone was due not only to lax environmental controls, but because they got their raw earths as by-product of mining for other minerals that they needed anyway. Under those circumstances mines which are based just on rare earth production can't compete on price. It was not so much a cunning plan, more a product of China's vast use of other ores.
          SNP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          +1 Davemart.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tesla makes a small and cheap induction motor that requires no rare earths. Lithium batteries can be made with only a tiny fraction, or NO rare earths. Rare earths ( neo magnets ) have only been used for so long because they were cheap. China's gonna shoot themselves in the foot betting on neo magnets by jacking up the price and cartelizing the industry. Wait till Bolivia starts producing good amounts of Lithium as well. That will change things dramatically.
        SNP
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I dont even know how the US allowed china to control 97% of the rare earths market. I take it, it was the whole retarded extreme left greenies movement + corrupt self-described free-market neo-cons that caused this massive oversight. The US should allow the free market run its course, but still maintain a large enough foothold in any major industry so we dont get cornered like what china can do to the whole world right now. It would not be the end of the world to have a couple of rare earth mines in a few states.
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SNP
          The free market did run it's course. Our course has and will continue to be that our corporations worry about short term shareholder profit, which also coincides with huge benefits to the CEOs. Long term large captial projects are not possible for us anymore. We saw this coming (China having all rare earth production) and we knew what should have been done, but their is no CEO in the world who will tell a bunch of shareholders "We're going to make some long term investments that will have marginal return, and you may see some profit, albeit a small one in about 5-7 years".
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SNP
          And the freemarket will undo it if China raises their prices a lot. There are rare earths elsewhere, just no one can mine them cheap enough to make money with the Chinese companies selling them as cheaply as they do. If prices go up, more mines open. It's just not a stranglehold like people make it out to be. At least not yet.
          Rick
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SNP
          Maybe they had the money to go out on a spending spree buy up the rare earth mines around the globe, and the US did not. It's not just rare earth mines around the globe that China are buying up, now now awash with profits from US bad debt loans, l think we will start to see them start snapping up buying a lot of European/US companies in the future, not just rare earth mines. Chinese folk are burning down Japanese plants, and attacking all things Japanese at the moment and boycotting Japanese brands on mass, most of Toyota's parts are now sourced from Denso plants based in China, l wonder if this will feed into Japanese car production around the globe?
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SNP
          I'd say they are better at mining than us these days. Their labor conditions and thus costs are also lower. Yeah, we could produce some neodymium here in the 'states but we could not compete with China on price. That being said, it may be better to let them deplete their stock first. ;)
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Well aren't you Mr. The Glass is Half Empty Yay Ford!
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nice to see Ford reducing their dependence on rare earths (since China cornered the world market in them raised their prices by orders of magnitude...if you manufacture outside of China). It should be pointed out that if the hybrid has NiMH batts and they are properly managed, they should last the life of the vehicle (basically keeping their capacity for that life...you'll see this with Toyota Prius's having 200,000+ miles)...this is not the case with Li batts which will loose capacity continually during their life and at some point will impact performance of the vehicle. Given the choice for a Hybrid, I'd take NiMH just for their durability.
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        With shenanigans like that, why do they get the USA's "Most Favored Nation" trading status?
          Sasparilla Fizz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          Probably because all our large multinationals use them to outsource their production and the ends justify the means...
        krona2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        Toshiba SCiB lithium batteries.
      lasertekk
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Chinese. The new Middle East of magnet material.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Spin spin spin. Ford is one of the companies that uses rare earth motors instead of AC induction. Yet here they are trying to pretend that somehow they are on the forefront of not using rare earths.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        The win the 'green marketer' for a reason...
      PR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Aren't there already a bunch of EV drivetrain parts out there that use zero rare-earth elements? I swear I remember at least one company bragging about that?
      Rick
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ford are spin spin spin not much substance in Europe theses days AUTOMOTIVE NEWS Ford hit hardest as European car sales fall 8.5% in August Ford sales fell nearly -29 percent Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120918/ANE/120919868#ixzz26pa7RDef August 2012/1979 sales EUROPE/UK sales 2012 Ford of EUROPE(13 Models KA to big Galaxy) sales 52,000 -29% 2012 Ford of EUROPE FWD (1 model) Mondeo sales 3,400 down -1,600 1979 Ford UK (1 Model) RWD Ford Cortina sales 55,000 2012 Ford UK (13 Models small KA to big Galaxy) 8,094 Roland De Walt says in the press release Ford are No1 in the UK, true they were before you got the job in Europe VW are No1 with 12,922 sales just from using VW, Audi, Skoda & Seat August sales numbers Ford sold 8,094 in the UK. Spin spin spin De Walt. LOL Ford ramps up its production of Electric Cars, UK only brought 30 EVs last month down from 34 EV sales August 2011, most of the 30 UK EV sales were probably Leaf, Ford will muscle in with 2 sales as they ramp it up Spin Spin Spin LOL :-) http://media.ford.com/news/fordsalesdowninweakaugustindustrybutexpectsseptemberreboundfuelledbynewproductsanduksales.htm
      jkirkebo
      • 2 Years Ago
      They could get rid of most of the rest of the rare earth metals by switching the motor to an asynchronous induction motor instead of the PM synchronous now used. I think the only rare earth metals in the Tesla Model S is found in the speaker magnets ;)
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