You may have already heard that Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is releasing several “electrified” cars this year, including hybrid, plug-in, and all-electric variants. Aside from the obvious benefit of using less fuel, they also focus on using lesser amounts rare earth metals.
In particular, the 47-mp Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 47-mpg C-MAX Hybrid will carry much lighter and more efficient lithium-ion batteries that should see Ford saving nearly 500,000 pounds of rare earth metals per year.
Today, China leads the world in the supply of rare earth metals. It has been posited that the move away from fuels to electric vehicles could merely result in a shift of dependencies from oil to rare earth metals, which is all the more reason why Ford’s strategy is an encouraging sign.
Primarily, Ford is saving by choosing to go with Li-ion batteries instead of Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) options. The latter contain several rare earth metals including neodymium, cerium, lanthanum, and praseodymium. Li-ion batteries have none of these.
Dysprosium, which Ford uses in building electric motor magnets, will also be used more sparingly – up to 50 percent less in some cases.
Ultimately, the move will allow Ford to lower overall prices, battery weight, and footprint.