Toyota Working On Electric/Hybrid Motor That Doesn’t Rely On Rare Earth Metals

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09:49:29 am on January 14, 2011

Nearly two years ago I wrote an article titled From Dependence On Foreign Oil to Chinese Neodymium?  Never did I imagine when I posted that article that a mad scramble for rare earth metals would take place so soon and that  companies would begin looking for ways to avoid the use of neodymium so soon. 

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This morning the WSJ reports that Toyota has been working on a solution to avoid the use of neodymium in its electric and hybrid vehicles.  Apparently the company is near a break through by using an induction motor which doesn’t use permanent magnets but rather magnets that only attract when power is applied to them. 

With neodymium prices quadrupling in just the past year, the breakthrough would   help to lower the cost of an electric car.  According to the WSJ article, 40% of the world supply of neodymium is used by the auto industry and Toyota makes up much of that.  The Toyota Prius alone uses over 2lbs of the neodymium for the electric motor magnets.  All electric cars require even larger amounts of rare earth metals.

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Comments  

I meant to add that IM motors are much simpler, less costly, and more tolerant of abuse than PM motors. They are the workhorse of motors for industry.

 

So are Rare Earth stocks essentially finished? If Toyota no longer requires rare earth elements then other car makers will soon follow. Why investors pouring millions into stock like Molycorp?

 
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