The Japanese automaker said it developed the world’s first hybrid vehicle motor magnet free of heavy rare earth elements, which are usually very costly and difficult to get.
In order to build electric motors for hybrid vehicles, the manufacturers use heavy rare earth metals such as dysprosium and terbium, to make sure the units have a high heat resistance. However, there are many challenges in getting such rare elements. The supply chain is usually very slow because deposits are unevenly distributed around the world and the costs are high. Honda, alongside with the Japanese metal supplier Daido Steel, said they found a bypass solution to this predicament, skipping the use of rare-earth metals by mass-producing motors magnets using a hot deformation method, rather than the typical sintering production method.
Furthermore, Honda designed an electric engine which houses this new magnet, an entirely new hybrid system that will be fitted in the new Freed – a mini MPV build for the Japanese market – scheduled to go on sale this fall. Honda said it would continue expanding application of this technology to new cars in the future.
“Adoption of this technology enables a break from the constraints associated with heavy rare earth, which had been one of the challenges to expanding the use of neodymium magnets. This technology will make it possible to avoid resource-related risks and diversify channels of procurement,” Honda said in statement.
Starting next month, Daido Electronics – a subsidiary of Daido Steel – will begin the mass-production and shipment of this magnet, using a new production line at its Japanese factory.