Report: Toyota working on new engines that don’t require rare minerals

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 14, 2011

According to the latest reports, it appears that Toyota is currently working on an alternative motor for future hybrid and electric cars. Yes, we know that this is not surprising, but the most interesting news is that these engines will not need rare-earth minerals found at risk of supply disruptions.

The new engine is called inductive motor and it is lighter and more efficient than the magnet-type motor now used in its Prius.

According to John Hanson, a company spokesman, Toyota is at an “advanced stage,” but he declined to say when vehicles with the motors may be sold. For those who don’t know, China controls more than 90 percent of the global market for the metals and Toyota has to cut its dependency on rare-earth materials from this country.

China's government cut export quotas for the first half of 2011 by 35 percent last month. This comes after the country applied a 72 percent reduction in the second half of 2010, causing the price of some of the metals to more than double.

But Toyota, which uses on its Prius rare-earth minerals such as neodymium and dysprosium, is not the only manufacturer using these minerals in its motor magnets, as Nissan uses the materials in its Leaf electric car while GM uses them in the plug-in Volt. [via autonews - sub. required]

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