Honda develops electric motor without main rare earth metals in order to address cost and supply issues; upcoming Freed minivan will see its first use
Honda Motor has developed a new electric motor for hybrid vehicles that gets rid of two important manufacturing hurdles. One is the soaring cost levels and the other is the rare-earth metals used for the magnets’ production process. The Japanese manufacturer will be employing the new motor in the hybrid version of its Freed subcompact minivan exclusive for its home market and is based on the Fit/Jazz platform.
The new motor is jointly developed with Daido Steel Co., a Japanese metal supplier and the volume production of the new magnets is set to begin in August. A joint release statement read, they sought to eliminate the use of heavy rare earth metal as much as they could. The Freed will be the first practical vehicle in the world to have a high performance magnet without the presence of rare earth metals.
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Honda and Daido used a hot deformation method to make magnets in place of the usual sintering techniques in order to offset for the use of rare earth metals that avail phenomenal heat resistant properties. The method implemented allows for the finer structure of the microscopic magnetic crystals providing heat resistance.
Car manufacturers have been delving deep to restrict the use and recycling of rare earth metals as they are available in exclusive places with limited supply source prompting for high costs. China is the biggest producer of those metals for as much as 90 per cent which causes price concerns due to the regional disputes between them and Japan.
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The Honda’s electric motor is not completely devoid of rare-earth metals as neodymium used can be bought from places like America and Australia as opposed to dysprosium and terbium available prominently in China.
Honda is expecting to deploy new motors in other hybrid vehicles but it’s believed that the technology will still be limited for the full-electric powertrains as of now because the excessive heat generation can only be taken care of by the rare earth metals.