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Ford calculates that shift to Gen3 hybrid powertrain could reduce use of rare earth metals by up to 500,000 lbs annually
14 September 2012
Ford calculates that its third-generation hybrid system, which among other enhancements replaces NiMH batteries with Li-ion batteries, could reduce the company’s use of expensive rare earth metals by up to 500,000 pounds (227,000 kg) a year, based on its past hybrid sales and projections for the future.
Among the rare earth metals used in NiMH batteries are neodymium, cerium, lanthanum and praseodymium, none of which are used in the new lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, Ford has reduced its use of dysprosium by approximately 50% in magnets employed in the hybrid system’s electric machines. Dysprosium is the most expensive rare earth metal used in Ford vehicles. This reduction is the result of a new diffusion process that is used in the magnet manufacturing process.
This reduction of rare earth metals is important for both financial and physical reasons. First, the cost is reduced by 30% when compared to previous-generation hybrid batteries. Also, lithium-ion batteries are 50% lighter and 25 to 30% smaller. The result is better fuel efficiency in Ford’s new electric vehicle offerings, including a projected 47 mpg for Fusion Hybrid and an EPA-certified 47 mpg for C-MAX Hybrid.
The overall reduction of rare earth metals in the lithium-ion batteries and electric machines lowers vehicle costs, which is key as Ford triples production of its electric vehicles by 2013, ultimately translating to more affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle choices for customers.
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