Tesla will use a magnetic engine to stop using rare earth elements

However, Elon Musk did not divulge information about the precise materials used.
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Tesla Gigafactory 3 located in Pudong District, Shanghai, China.
Stock photo: Tesla Gigafactory 3 located in Pudong District, Shanghai, China.


At its investor day, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that it would develop a permanent magnet electric vehicle engine with no rare earth elements.

Due to their difficulty in obtaining supplies and the fact that China accounts for the vast majority of global production, rare earth elements are a source of friction in the supply chains for EVs.

This is significant due to some factors, not the least of which is the Biden Administration's present promotion of domestically made materials for electric car componentry.

There are numerous false beliefs about what a rare earth element is and how many of them are utilized by electric vehicles. In actuality, rare earth elements are frequently absent from lithium-ion batteries.

Electric vehicle (EV) motors employ rare earth elements rather than batteries. The most popular is neodymium, which is used to create strong magnets for electric motors, hard drives, and speakers. Neodymium magnets frequently contain the additions of dysprosium and terbium.

Moreover, not all electric car motors use rare earth elements; Tesla uses them in its DC permanent magnet motors but not in its AC induction motors.

Tesla's vehicles were initially powered by AC induction motors, which did not require rare earth elements. Nikola Tesla, who created the AC induction motor, is actually the source of the company's name. Yet when the Model 3 was released, the business unveiled a brand-new permanent magnet motor and subsequently began using these motors in all of its other vehicles.

Model 3 already cut 25% of rare earth elements

Today, Tesla announced that by improving the efficiency of the drivetrain during the last five years, it was able to cut the use of rare earth elements by 25 percent in its new Model 3 drive units.

Yet, it now appears that Tesla is attempting to combine the best of both worlds by using a permanent magnet motor without rare earth elements.

Tesla was vague when asked about the precise materials it employs, maybe because it sees this information as a trade secret that it doesn't want to divulge. However, the first number most certainly represents Neodymium, and Terbium and Dysprosium could be the other two.

In terms of the upcoming motor, Tesla's image indicates that it will have a permanent magnet, but it won't use rare earth elements.

Permanent magnets made of neodymium have long been the standard for such applications, but during the past 10 years, research has focused on other possible materials that might take its place. Tesla has not yet made clear which one it intends to employ, but it appears to be close to making a choice or, at the very least, believes that a better option will be found soon.

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