Toyota can now make an electric motor without rare earth metals

first_imgRare earth minerals/metals are poorly named simply for the fact most of them are not actually rare. They are instead difficult to mine and therefore expensive. It also doesn’t help matters that China currently supplies 95% of the market. However, that should slowly change now that new, large deposits have been found in a tiny village in Nebraska and the Pacific Ocean.Rare earths are used in many of the gadgets we all own including TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. They are also used in the manufacture of electric vehicles, and more specifically electric motors–an industry that is set to grow quickly over the coming years.Tech companies have so far resigned themselves to having no alternative, and therefore having to pay the high price of getting the rare earths they need. Toyota has taken a different approach, though. It has set about researching alternatives to the neodymium and dysprosium rare earth metals it currently uses for electric motor production. The end result is it can now do without them, potentially cutting the cost of manufacture and solving the supply issues, depending on what the replacement is of course.For the moment, Toyota is holding off switching production, but has said it will make the switch if rare earths pricing does not fall. Research will continue to try and remove the reliance on such minerals from the company’s other products too.Toyota’s decision to research around the problem is surely not a unique one. If the cost of these materials continues to rise, alternatives will be found. If China is keeping watch it may start to reduce pricing so as to keep companies like Toyota buying rather than losing them as customers in a few years.via Reuterslast_img read more

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