TOKYO Jan 23 Toyota Motor Corp
has developed a way to make hybrid and electric vehicles without
the use of expensive rare earth metals, in which China has a
near-monopoly, Japan's Kyodo News reported.
Toyota, the world's top producer of fuel-saving hybrid cars
such as the Prius, could bring the technology to market in two
years if the price of rare earths does not come down, Kyodo
said, citing a source familiar with the matter.
A Toyota spokeswoman said the company continues to research
ways to reduce rare earth usage and has no time frame yet for
Rare earth metals like neodymium and dysprosium are used in
the powerful magnets in motors that power hybrid and electric
cars, and demand is expected to surge as more of the
environmentally friendly cars hit the market.
China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare
earth metals. Its efforts to limit exports, citing resource
depletion and environmental degradation, have alarmed its
customers and trading partners and have sent prices soaring.
Japan accounts for a third of global rare earth demand and
is aiming to cut consumption, providing subsidies for recycling
and investing in new ways to limit their use.