The electric vehicle industry is highly dependent on the supply of raw materials from China – not only for the production of traction batteries, but also for electric motors. Japanese companies are rightly concerned that the domestic auto industry is vulnerable in this regard, and are therefore trying to create magnets for traction motors that do not require neodymium supplied from China.
The company Proterial, a division of Hitachi, develops special ferrite magnets that, without the use of neodymium, achieve the characteristics required for electric motors in cars. A prototype electric motor based on such magnets has already been manufactured and tested by Proterial specialists. They claim that the new components can be successfully used in electric vehicles.
Ferrite magnets consist mostly of iron oxide and do not require neodymium, which comes from China, to make them. At the same time, neodymium magnets are usually ten times stronger than ferrite magnets, and this quality is in high demand in the production of traction motors. For this reason, ferrite magnets have not yet found widespread use in this market segment.
Proterial claims that the special construction of its ferrite magnets allows it to compensate for their inherent weaker characteristics. The company assures that quite competitive traction motors for electric cars can be produced on their basis.
The Japanese company will not produce such electric motors on its own, but is ready to supply ferrite magnets to manufacturers who, for certain reasons, are reluctant to use neodymium magnets, notes the Nikkei Asian Review.
Mass production of electric motors based on ferrite magnets and intended for the needs of car manufacturers may begin no earlier than the beginning of the next decade.