10
AUG
2016

EV and Fuel Economy Developments

In the past there has been discussion amongst our transportation groupies about the use of precious metals and the restraint that it could have on the mass adaptation of electric vehicles and battery power storage.  Therefore, this development sited below from Honda is a potential game changer.  

“Honda Motor Co. has developed a new electric motor for hybrid vehicles that tackles two top challenges in manufacturing the crucial drivetrain component: The high cost and uncertain supply of the rare-earth metals used in their powerful magnets.

The key is a new motor not using any heavy rare-earth metals, such as dysprosium or terbium. The breakthrough frees Honda from being at the mercy of supply bottlenecks of the sparsely distributed metals and increasing prices as demand for them soars.”

And in the second article below, I believe that it reveals that Mazda is pursuing a dead end long term strategy and totally misreading EV future.  

“This year, Mazda became the first non-electric vehicle maker to hit 100 percent compliance with the 2016 CAFE standards”

But…

“The Japanese automaker has no plans to fully electrify any of its models.” 

 

Honda will deploy the motor this fall in a hybrid variant of its Freed, a Japan-market subcompact minivan

July 12, 2016

Hans Greimel

TOKYO — Honda Motor Co. has developed a new electric motor for hybrid vehicles that tackles two top challenges in manufacturing the crucial drivetrain component: The high cost and uncertain supply of the rare-earth metals used in their powerful magnets.

The key is a new motor not using any heavy rare-earth metals, such as dysprosium or terbium. The breakthrough frees Honda from being at the mercy of supply bottlenecks of the sparsely distributed metals and increasing prices as demand for them soars.

Honda will deploy the motor this fall in a hybrid variant of its Freed, a Japan-market subcompact minivan based on the Fit architecture. Honda developed the new motor with Japanese metal supplier Daido Steel Co., the companies announced Tuesday.

“A reduction in the use of heavy rare earth elements has been one of the major challenges needing to be addressed,” the companies said in a joint release.

Honda called the development the world’s first practical application of a high-performance hybrid vehicle magnet that doesn’t require heavy rare earths. Heavy rare-earth metals are typically needed in such magnets to deliver heat resistance properties.

The new approach developed by Honda and Daido uses a hot deformation method to create the magnets, instead of the traditional sintering method.

That allows the magnet’s microscopic crystals to align in a much finer structure with great heat resistance, thereby bypassing the need for the heavy rare-earth metals.

Avoiding rare-earth metals

Automakers have been scrambling for ways to reduce the use of rare-earth metals, and recycle them, because the class of metals is sourced from limited places, and prices are expected to rise along with growing demand from the automotive and electronics industries. They use the metals in such products as motors and batteries.

The global rare-earth metals market is expected to exceed $9 billion by 2019, growing at an annual rate of over 14 percent through then, according to a forecast issued this year by Technavio Research, a technology research and advisory company.

“Rising global demand for rare earth metals has resulted in sharp increases in their prices due to a flat to negative supply growth from the key producing region,” the Technavio report said. “Japan has been sourcing rare earths and is aggressively trying to develop its own source of rare earth metals amid regional disputes with China.”

China is the world’s key producer of rare-earth metals, accounting for as much as 90 percent of global output. That causes concerns about both price and supply.

Chinese dependence

Japan’s automakers, which have made rare-earth-using hybrid vehicles a centerpiece of their green car strategies, learned the hard way about dependence on China in 2010.

During a territorial dispute over a spray of islands claimed by China and Japan, Beijing decided to turn the economic screws on Japan by halting shipments of rare-earth metals.

Japan backed down. And despite Beijing’s denial that it ever officially halted exports in the first place, traders were telling journalists shipments then magically resumed.

The lesson for Japan was clear: Depending on China carries plenty of hidden costs.

To be sure, Honda’s new technology is not completely free of rare-earth metals.

High-power magnets used in electric or hybrid vehicle motors use another rare-earth called neodymium. But that is considered a light rare-earth metal and can be sourced from China as well as other countries, such as the U.S. and Australia. The heavy rare-earth metals dysprosium and terbium aren’t readily sourced from anywhere else besides China.

Heavy rare-earth metals account for as much as 10 percent of a motor magnet’s weight, while neodymium accounts for around 30 percent and iron around 65 percent.

Honda expects to deploy the new motors in other hybrid vehicles. But engineers said the technology may still have limited applications in electric vehicle motors.

Electric vehicle motors operate at higher temperatures because they are the sole traction source powering the wheels. Hybrid motors typically work in tandem with the engine. The higher temperatures mean the EV motors still rely on heavy rare-earth metals.

Daido Electronics Co., a subsidiary of Daido Steel, will begin mass producing the new magnets in August at a newly built line in a factory in Japan. Daido said it will use that as a launch pad to enter the market making magnets for drive motors in hybrid vehicles.

You can reach Hans Greimel at hgreimel@crain.com — Follow Hans on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hansgreimel

 

MPG MASTER PLAN

Mazda faces fight to maintain mpg lead

July 18, 2016
Sharon Silke Carty

DETROIT — Mazda may be leading the race toward the U.S. government’s more stringent fuel economy targets, but it’s about to hit a hard ceiling.

The Japanese automaker has no plans to fully electrify any of its models and is angling to sell more crossovers rather than the small models that now make up the bulk of its sales.

In a roundtable with Automotive News last week, Masahiro Moro, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, acknowledged that hitting the 2025 model year federal corporate average fuel economy regulations will be tough but said the company has a plan that is based on getting the most out of gasoline engines.

“For 2021, we are very confident we will meet the CAFE standards,” Moro said. “2025 is another story because the requirement level is very, very high.”

This year, Mazda became the first non-electric vehicle maker to hit 100 percent compliance with the 2016 CAFE standards, which called for a fleet average of 34.1 mpg. Before that, Tesla was the only automaker to meet the regulations, but its fleet is all-electric. Mazda’s entire lineup in the U.S. is powered by gasoline engines and includes no hybrids.

Mazda credits its Skyactiv system, a bundle of platform technologies and engineering tweaks, for propelling it to the front of the fuel-economy pack. Skyactiv-tuned engines squeeze greater efficiency out of the standard internal combustion engine.

Moro said the second generation of Skyactiv, which should be unveiled in 2017, will be the main driver toward meeting 2021 standards. Skyactiv 2 will use homogenous-charge compression ignition combustion engines, a technology that mimics the compression in diesel engines, which should further improve efficiency in gasoline engines.

But HCCI engines are a “very difficult and delicate technology,” Moro said, so Mazda is working to ensure the engines are durable.

As for offering a straight-up diesel engine in the U.S., Moro said, Mazda will make a decision shortly. In Japan, where diesels account for a small fraction of the overall market, 65 percent of Mazda’s sales are diesel.

Since it has had such success maximizing internal combustion engines, Mazda is under less pressure to pursue hybrids and electric cars, Moro said. The automaker has one hybrid, the Mazda3, for sale in Japan. That car uses Toyota hybrid technology, and Moro said Mazda has no plans to bring it to the U.S.

But he admitted Mazda will probably have to embrace some kind of electrification plan to reach the 2025 CAFE goal of 54.5 mpg. Those hybrid systems will likely be small, used primarily to enhance the efficiency of gasoline engines, he said.

“The new question mark is how many consumers will love buying this type of car,” he said. “We don’t know.”

The bigger looming issue is the zero-emission vehicles mandate that is baked into the 2025 regulations, Moro said. Nine states have adopted California’s mandate that 15 percent of new-vehicle sales be zero-emission vehicles.

“To me, the biggest regulatory headache right now is ZEV,” he said.

You can reach Sharon Silke Carty at scarty@crain.com

 

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