Honda Freed the subcompact minivan will go on sale later this year in Japan. This will be a hybrid and Honda will reduce the use of rare earth metals in the hybrid motor's magnets.
The Japanese auto major worked with Daido Steel Co., a metal supplier, to produce a process to eliminate the use of rare earth elements like the terbium or dysprosium.
One of the reason is to reduce the cost to build hybrid engine and Honda will use lighter earth metal called neodymium.
With the recent trend of hybrid and electric vehicle demand rising in the next few years, the demand for the rare earth metal will simultaneously increase as well.
Honda is estimating that the new process will cut costs in making the magnets for the motors by 10 percent. Also, it will reduce the weight of the vehicle by 8 percent.
Honda has been selling the Freed in Japan since 2008 with gas powered version. From 2012 onwards, Honda started to sell the Freed in the hybrid version.
In the process, Honda became the world's first company to achieve practical application of the hot deformed neodymium magnet which contains no heavy rare-earth metals. However, the motor with the magnet has high heat resistance and achieved high magnetic performance required for use in driving a hybrid vehicle.