Look ma, no rare earths

Hitachi has built an 11-kilowatt motor that uses no rare earth materials. The motor took four years to develop, and commercial production is expected in two years.

Manufacturing firms in Japan were spurred to find alternatives to rare earth since China came to dominate the space, and it started limiting exports. A trade dispute has been launched with the WTO, but the outcome is uncertain. China currently supplies over 90% of rare earth demand.

China claims it is limiting exports to protect its resources and the environment.

In January, Toyota announced that it was also bringing to market a technology to substitute rare earths used in its hybrid vehicles that would also be available in two years.