Reported by Nick Carey. Edited by Sharon Singleton
Automakers and suppliers are seeking to cut rare earth elements from electric vehicles
LONDON, Nov 14 (Reuters) – A growing number of automakers and suppliers are working on electric vehicle motors that either do not contain rare earths or significantly reduce the use of Chinese-dominated materials.
Here is a list of some of the products that automakers and suppliers are working on or have completed as part of this process:
Tesla initially used induction motors without rare earth permanent magnets, but switched to a permanent magnet motor for the mass-market Model 3 in 2017.
The world’s largest electric vehicle maker said earlier this year that it has reduced heavy rare earth elements by 25% per vehicle and aims to eliminate rare earth elements in next-generation EV models.
BMW does not use any permanent rare earth magnets today, and has developed an externally excited magnet-free synchronous machine (EESM), which generates a magnetic field using electric current, which will be included in all of its next-generation electric cars.
General Motors (GM.N)
The No. 1 U.S. automaker says it is “exploring options to reduce or eliminate rare earth materials in electric vehicle motors.”
The company also just invested in Niron Magnets, a startup developing permanent magnets without rare earths, along with rival automaker Stellantis (STLAM.MI). Volvo Cars (VOLCARb.ST) is also an investor in Niron.
The US supplier already has an EV motor in production which has reduced the heavy rare earth content. The company also has an electric motor in development that is free of rare earth elements.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)
Tata Motors’ luxury unit (TAMO.NS) is exploring using two engines in its next-generation electric vehicles, one with rare earths and one without, to reduce the rare earth content of each vehicle.
German supplier ZF has developed an EESM EV engine that could be in production within two years. The company is in talks to supply European, American and Chinese automakers.
German supplier Vitesco previously produced the EESM EV engine for Renault (RENA.PA) and has developed a new version that should be on the market in 2026.
The company is also working on producing rare earth-free permanent magnets.
Renault used the Vitesco EESM EV engine in its Zoe and Kangoo models from 2011 to 2019, and is working on a rare-earth-free EV engine with Valeo (VLOF.PA) that should go into production in 2027. A Renault spokesman said, “Things “Continues to progress well” in the joint project.
Nissan has developed an EESM EV motor for the Ariya crossover and is pursuing a dual strategy of EESM motors and phasing out rare earths from permanent magnet motors.
Mercedes has reduced the heavy rare earth content in its next-generation MMA EV platform to “nearly 0%”. The German luxury carmaker says it aims to completely remove the heavy rare earth content.
Toyota is developing permanent magnets with a 50% reduction in neodymium, a heavy rare earth material.
Volkswagen’s British luxury unit (VOWG_p.DE) is researching an engine containing rare-earth magnets, and the carmaker said it remains “very committed” to the project.
Auto parts maker Marelli, owned by US fund KKR, says it is “exploring the use of alternative materials for electric motors to meet (automakers’) requirements for magnet-free motors”, including “evaluating” EESM motors.
EuroGroup Laminatings (EGLA.MI) Electric motor components manufacturer EuroGroup Laminating works on both rare-earth-free permanent magnet motors and motors with limited rare-earth content for automaker customers.
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