Ford Reducing Use Of Rare Earth Metals In Lithium-Ion Batteries

Posted Sep 16, 2012

Ford Motor Company is reducing the need for rare earth metals used in battery production.  Currently China has a majority of the world supply of rare earth metals and they are increasing their grip on the materials to drive up the prices.  Ford recently announced new lithium-ion batteries and were designed to reduce the use of rare earth metals.

The batteries that will be used in the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Ford C-Max Hybrid.  Ford said that the batteries it uses in the hybrid vehicles are more efficient and more powerful.  They plan to reduce the use of rare earth metals by up to 500,000 pounds annually.  Ford said that the rare earth metal Dysprosium used in Ford vehicles has been reduced by about 50% in the batteries.

Ford is able to make their hybrid vehicles cheaper by relying less on rare earth metals.  Ford said that by reducing the rare earth metals it needs in battery packs, the cost of its third-generation hybrid technology was reduced by 30%.  The reduction in costs in battery manufacturing is one of the main reasons why the C-Max Hybrid has a starting price of $25,995.

Before switching to lithium-ion batteries with less of a need for rare earth metals, Ford was using nickel-metal-hydride batteries in its vehicles.  Lithium-ion batteries are 50% lighter and 25-30% smaller than comparable nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

This means that vehicles can be made lighter, which results in better fuel economy and longer driving range for EVs.  Ford reduced the use of rare earth metals by 50% in magnets that are used in hybrid systems.

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