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Toyota develops new magnet for electric motors

Toyota has developed the world’s first neodymium-reduced, heat-resistant magnet. Neodymium magnets are used in various types of motors such as the high-output motors found in electrified vehicles, use of which is expected to increase rapidly in the future. The new magnet uses significantly less neodymium, a rare-earth element, and can be used in high-temperature conditions.

The newly developed magnet uses no terbium (Tb) or dysprosium (Dy), which are rare earths that are also categorised as critical materials necessary for highly heat-resistant neodymium magnets. A portion of the neodymium has been replaced with lanthanum (La) and cerium (Ce), which are low-cost rare earths, reducing the amount of neodymium used in the magnet.

Neodymium plays an important role in maintaining high coercivity (the ability to maintain magnetisation) and heat resistance. Merely reducing the amount of neodymium and replacing it with lanthanum and cerium results in a decline in motor performance. Accordingly, Toyota adopted new technologies that suppress the deterioration of coercivity and heat resistance, even when neodymium is replaced with lanthanum and cerium, and developed a magnet that has equivalent levels of heat resistance as earlier neodymium magnets, while reducing the amount of neodymium used by up to 50%.

This new type of magnet is expected to be useful in expanding use of motors in various areas such as automobiles and robotics, as well as maintaining a balance between the supply and demand of valuable rare earth resources. Toyota will work to further enhance performance and evaluate application in products while accelerating the development of mass production technologies, with the aim of achieving early adoption in motors used for various applications, including in automobiles and robotics.

Development of elemental technologies for motors, inverters, batteries, and other components will require steady research and development in anticipation of the future. Toyota positions these technologies as essential for electrified vehicles and will continue making steady progress in each and every area, while working to build the foundation that will support the increased use of electrified vehicles in the future.

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