There are a lot of misconceptions about the use of rare earth elements in electric cars.
Rare earth magnets are the main component in electric motors rather than batteries. In fact, lithium-ion batteries typically contain zero rare earth elements.
Rare earth magnets are mostly made of neodymium. Neodymium is a mighty metal. The neodymium magnets in a typical EV weigh up to 3kg (6 lb).
Auto firms worldwide remain almost entirely dependent on China for the rare earth magnets, critical to power electric vehicles.
As tensions mount between China and the United States, automakers are trying to find alternative sources to reduce their reliance on China.
Taking a step towards this, Tesla plans to scrap rare earth elements from the engine of its electric vehicles.
Recently, Tesla unveiled a master plan including a new manufacturing platform for building next-gen EVs with a powertrain that features a permanent magnet electric vehicle motor with zero rare earth elements in it.
“We have designed our next drive unit, which uses a permanent magnet motor, to not use any rare earth materials at all,” said Colin Campbell, Tesla’s VP of powertrain engineering.
However, Tesla’s announcement was light on details. It did not mention which elements it currently uses in its motors or what it plans to use instead of rare earth materials.