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Ford Reduces Rare Earth Use

September 13, 2012 in batteries, Electric Drive, EVs, Hybrids by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

‘Third-Generation’ e-Drives Could Save 500,000 Pounds Per Year

Ford’s new Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid feature lighter, more efficient, more powerful lithium ion batteries that may reduce the automaker’s use of expensive rare earth metals by up to 500,000 pounds per year, the company said Wednesday.

Inside the C-Max Hybrid are less rare earth metals, Ford says.

Volumes of dysprosium, the most expensive rare earth metal used in Ford vehicles, have been reduced by approximately 50%.

The rare earth metal reductions helped cut the cost of its third-generation hybrid technology by 30%, Ford says, “adding to the overall value of the new C-Max Hybrid – America’s most affordable hybrid utility vehicle starting at $25,995 – and Fusion Hybrid.”

Ford is talking 47 mpg for both cars: projected for Ford Fusion Hybrid and EPA-certified for C-Max Hybrid.

Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium (Wikipedia)

“We’re continually looking to find ways to provide greater fuel efficiency as well as cost savings to customers of our hybrid vehicles, and the reduction of rare earth metals is a key part of this strategy,” Chuck Gray, chief engineer, global core engineering, hybrid and electric vehicles, said in a release.

“The third-generation hybrid technology we are now using builds on our 20 years of electric vehicle innovations,” he said.

Better Processing

Among the rare earth metals used in nickel-metal-hydride batteries are neodymium, cerium, lanthanum and praseodymium – none of which are used in the new lithium-ion batteries, as Ford has reduced its use of costly dysprosium by approximately 50% in magnets in the hybrid system’s electric machines.

“This reduction is the result of a new diffusion process that is used in the magnet manufacturing process,” Ford says.

The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is projected to deliver best-in-class 47 mpg on the highway, making it America’s most fuel-efficient sedan. Fusion will also give customers the power to choose across three powertrain options – gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Gray is to appear at a Ford Sustainable Mobility and Mobile Connectivity event in San Francisco on September 18.

Ford’s C-Max Energi plug-in, launching later this fall, is projected to deliver 95 MPGe.

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