Japanese researchers said on Thursday they had developed a hybrid vehicle motor that is free of rare earths, the minerals that are now almost exclusively produced by China.
The news from a state-backed research group and a university comes days after industry sources said China had temporarily halted crucial rare earth exports to Japan amid a bitter territorial dispute.
Magnets made from rare earths have so far been considered indispensable for motors in gasoline-electric hybrid and electric vehicles produced by Japanese auto makers such as Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda.
Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and Hokkaido University said they had now developed a motor using magnets which are commonly used in electronics parts.
"As the technology uses only inexpensive ferrite magnets, it is expected to boost Japan’s competitiveness in the development of next-generation automobiles contested more and more fiercely in recent years," they said in a statement.
Kenji Kobayashi, of NEDO, said "ferrite magnets are very cheap as they are mostly iron."
Read the rest of the story: Japan develops hybrid car motor free of rare earths.
Toyota’s Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device that is the automaker’s answer to complaints that pedestrians can’t hear the top-selling car approaching.
The 12,600 yen ($148) speaker system that goes under the hood of the third-generation Prius sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so that it isn’t annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.
It goes on sale Aug. 30 in Japan, and owners pay extra for installation charges. Its use is voluntary.
Read the rest of the stroy: Toyota offers noise device for Prius for safety reasons.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces that cumulative sales in Japan of its hybrid vehicles have topped the 1-million mark, while more than 2.68 million units have been sold globally as of July 31, 2010(1).
In August 1997 in Japan, TMC launched its first hybrid vehicle, the Toyota "Coaster Hybrid EV" minibus. In December of the same year, TMC launched the Toyota "Prius" – the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. The use of the Toyota hybrid system was subsequently expanded to such vehicles as minivans, SUVs and rear-wheel-drive sedans. In 2009, TMC broadened its range of hybrid vehicles further with the launch of the third-generation Prius, as well as two other dedicated hybrid vehicles, the Lexus "HS250h" and the Toyota "Sai". Currently, nine TMC-produced hybrid passenger vehicle models and three hybrid commercial vehicle models are sold in Japan.
via Sales in Japan of Toyota Hybrids Top 1 Million Units, Global Sales Pass 2.68 Million Units.
Honda Motor Co. plans to consolidate its lineup in Japan by ceasing development of new models of name-brand cars and will only offer a hybrid version of its Civic, according to a report Friday. The Nikkei business daily reported that while Honda plans to roll out a new Civic worldwide in fall 2011, in Japan only the hybrid version will be released. Honda also plans to discontinue the Legend sedan, and has already halted development of the Elysion, according to the report.
Source: Market Watch