Toyota has reportedly developed a way to produce its hybrid and electric vehicles without using scarce and expensive rare earth metals.
Japan’s Kyodo News reports Toyota – the world’s largest manufacturer of hybrid vehicles – could have the technology ready for full-scale production within two years.
Toyota is understandably keeping it cards close to its chest, and has not revealed anything about its future powertrain technology. A Toyota spokesperson told Reuters the company is continuing its research into rare earth metal substitutes but at this stage has no timeline on when new components could hit the market.
Two of the metals – neodymium and dysprosium – are commonly used in the magnets of electric motors and are increasingly sought after as the demand for hybrids and EVs grows around the world.
China currently produces more than 95 per cent of the world’s rare earth metals and has recently revealed its intention to limit exports, fearing depletion of its natural resources. China’s hesitancy has forced hybrid manufacturers like Toyota into overdrive to find alternatives to rare materials. Japan currently accounts for approximately one third of the world’s rare earth metal consumption.