Toyota, having contemplated the design of future electric cars, has perforce been required to take a fresh look at magnets (how do they work?):
Electric motors found in EVs use magnetism to create rotational energy, which is then transferred to the axle shafts and drive wheels. Without straying too far into the technological weeds, the motor utilizes magnets, along with alternating current, to create a rotating magnetic field with which to spin the rotor, thus creating a means of propulsion. And batteries aren’t the cheapest things in the world.
Toyota’s plan is to eliminate the use of terbium and dysprosium in these magnets, and halve the use of neodymium. (Hands up if you’ve ever heard of these metals.) The automaker expects neodymium demand to outstrip supply by 2025, making it a good time to start leaving it in the rear-view. Instead of these rare earth metals, Toyota will use lanthanum and cerium. Both of these metals are 20 percent cheaper and less likely to skyrocket in price as EV sales rise.
Former chemistry student here. Of course I’ve heard of them. And I have a fair-sized chunk of neodymium in my own highly non-electric car: it’s part of the magnet that moves the voice coil of the subwoofer hanging off the rear deck.
And here’s rather a lot of the stuff, in spherical form: