Toyota has announced that it’s developing an alternative motor for its hybrid and electric vehicles.
The new motor would not need to use rare-mineral materials from China, which has a near monopoly on the global market for the metals used in hybrid vehicles.
Engineers in Japan and the US are currently involved in developing the so-called ’inductive motor’, which is lighter and more efficient than the magnet-type motor which the Prius uses.
Company spokesperson John Hanson said that research was at an ’advanced stage’, though, tantalisngly enough, omitted to say when vehicles with the new motors will go on the market.
The Chinese government last month cut export quotas of rare-earth minerals for the first half of 2011 by 35 per cent. The upshot of the measure is to cause the price of some of the materials to more than double.
Sounds like a good move on Toyota’s part to get out of the kitchen.