DETROIT — German supplier Mahle says it has developed a new technology for electric vehicle motors that can operate at high power and maximum efficiency without the need for magnets and the rare earth elements they require.
Mahle's motor technology kit, which the company calls a "perfect motor," combines its Superior Continuous Torque electric motor with its Magnet-free Contactless Transmitter.
Pairing the two technologies enables EVs to operate at peak power while guaranteeing no friction between the transmitter and rotor — allowing the motor to run for "a very long time without deterioration," Mahle CEO Arnd Franz told Automotive News at the Detroit auto show.
Franz said the magnet-free motors, which Mahle expects to have in mass production by 2027 or 2028, have drawn significant attention from automakers looking to boost the performance of their EV models while limiting the use of expensive rare earth metals.
Rare earth elements are largely produced in China, and trade tensions with the U.S. have made their long-term supply more uncertain for North American automakers.
Renault and BMW are among automakers using electric motors without rare earth elements.
"It's being picked up now because of the pressures of cost reduction, and also the scarcity of heavy rare earths that need to be used for magnet production," Franz said. "That's a big driver."
Mahle, traditionally a maker of internal combustion engine components such as pistons and cylinders, is banking on products such as its magnet-free transmitter to drive business as the market for EVs grows worldwide.