Rare Earth Magnets in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
Rare Earth Magnets in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles – When Tesla Motors built their first two full-sized car models, they used electric induction motors to power the vehicles. These motors were based on Nikola Tesla’s original motor design – a brilliant design that preceded the invention of the rare earth magnet by almost 100 years.
Induction motors create their own magnetism with electricity. They operate without permanent magnets of any kind.
The induction motor is a fine design, but there’s a good reason Tesla Motors switched to using a Permanent Magnet motor for their Model 3 in 2017. The Model 3 is a smaller car and it needed a smaller motor that would still have plenty of power.
Tesla Motors also wanted a more efficient motor that would help them extend the range of the vehicle without adding more expensive battery capacity. The answer for Tesla was the very thing they had avoided for years –a permanent magnet motor using Neodymium magnets.
Tesla isn’t the only auto company using rare earth magnets in their automotive traction motors. In fact Tesla Motors was the only company NOT using rare earth magnets until the Model 3. Everybody else is using rare earth magnets in their motors.
Why Are Automakers Using Rare Earth Magnet Traction Motors?
Rare earth magnets are also known as NdFeB (neodymium-iron-boron) magnets, or neodymium magnets, after the principal element that creates the magnetism. NdFeB magnets are the strongest magnets made (except for superconducting magnets). motor magnets
These strong magnets create more magnetic field lines in a smaller area, allowing designers to make smaller electric motors that are just as powerful as the larger motors they replaced. Electric motors made with NdFeB permanent magnets can be over 50% smaller and lighter than electric motors without permanent magnets.
This gives automotive designers (and many other designers) many more options in their designs, because now they have more room for other components and the weight savings gives them more design latitude with their other components.
These factors create a ripple effect through the entire system, allowing many components – and ultimately the entire automobile- to become smaller while performing all the functions of a larger, heavier design.
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