No rare earth metals in the Model S

No rare earth metals in the Model S

I know this has been discussed previously, but I could not find an authoritative source on this question, so I asked my customer advocate. Here is the reply directly from Tesla (received within less than 12 hours):

Tesla does not use rare earth metals in our battery or motor. Typically, rare earth metals apply to DC motors, which use magnets. One of the reasons we use an AC induction motor is it does not require magnets, which often contain the rare earth metals.

IMO this kind of information absolutely belongs up on the Model S Facts page. I wonder why it isn't.

With this information, I was also able to retrieve an old blog post from the Tesla website that deals with this topic. I thought I'd post it here, it is still worth reading although I don't know for sure if all of that information applies to the Model S in the same way it applies to the Roadster.

Crow | 07. Februar 2012

That's nice to know. One of the things the company should be actively debunking.

yobigd20 | 08. Februar 2014

While there aren't any in the battery or motor, there are certainly rare earth metals used in other places. Probably electronics. But specifically I am referring to the neodymium magnets used in the sound studio package. Those are definitely rare earth metals.

SMinnihan | 22. März 2015

Given 60 minutes episode, be good to confirm no "rare earth" in Tesla. Apparently there are "25 pounds" of it in a Prius.

JPPTM | 23. März 2015

What about 12 VDC motors for HVAC/climate control, windows, seats???

AmpedRealtor | 23. März 2015

Neodymium magnets in the speakers?

kevinf311 | 23. März 2015

Holy Necrobump, Batman!

Duma | 23. März 2015

@JPPTM Great point. Tesla can afford to design the main motor but a custom design for all the small "commodity" motors and electronics in the Model S is unrealistic.

I see benefit in minimizing rare earth metal use even if complete elimination is not economically feasible right know. Elon Musk understands sustainability and saw from the outset that using DC motor to drive the car was not sustainable. I celebrate that decision.

David Trushin | 23. März 2015

I believe yobigd20 is right. No rare earths in drive train and battery cells, but the rest of the car uses them in the same places and proportions as an ICE.

mjt.private | 23. März 2015

Stuff in ancillary motors and speakers is just the same as any ICE. The issue is stuff that is specific to EVs.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Lithium is the really significant element in the batteries, that there is no short-term Lithium shortage, and that the vast majority will be recycled at the end of life of the car/batteries.


Earl and Nagin ... | 23. März 2015

Rare Earth elements aren't particularly rare. Their existence in certain lower-quality EVs is just a nugget of FUD that has been used by haters to try to scare people away from them.

Brian H | 23. März 2015

Different motor type.

carlk | 23. März 2015

DC motor in most EV's uses rare earth (Neodymium) magnet. Only copper wire is used in AC inductive motor you find in the Tesla cars. A foresight by Tesla, both the inventor and the company? BTW GM built the largest US Neodymium magnet plant, Magnaquench which was mentioned in the sixty minutes segment, in Indiana in the 80's that was later sold to the Chinese. GM was interested in electric motors for automative applications but not necessarily EV at that early time. I know all these because rare earth elements and rare earth magnets happen to be my early research interests.

dougk71 | 28. Mai 2019

With the introduction of the permanent magnet motor for front wheel drive in the refresh MS I suspect the magnet will be a rare earth magnet. Rare earth elements are just that rarely found in a concentrated form on the surface of the earth. China has the most commercially developed production but the US has a supply in the Rockies.
Maybe the Chinese now have commercial control over this supply as well by buying the USA resources.

kerryglittle | 28. Mai 2019

Rare Earth was an awesome band back in the 70's. :-)

rglossin | 29. Mai 2019

If China owns the rights to any of our rare earth sites nationalize in the name of national security. Bite the bullet and get China out of our life.

milesbb | 30. Mai 2019

Rare Earth magnets come almost exclusively from China. With the escalating trade ware, China may stop exporting. They pulled this before, I believe Japan was hurt the most when this happened. The S may return to induction motors if this happens.

Bighorn | 30. Mai 2019

Mojave, CA has a mine with rare earth metals.

carlk | 30. Mai 2019

There was an interesting history behind all this. GM once was the largest NdFeB rare earth magnet, the type used in today's motors, producer in the world until it sold its subsidiary Magnequench during the years it was divesting everything to help the bottom line. The buyer, which later found was a front of Chinese companies, in tern sold it to them and subsequently moved the equipment and technology to Chine about two decades ago. That started this whole thing we see today.

Couple lessons in this story. One is like a lot of other things this is how China's "aggressive" plan got it to where it is today. I dislike pretty much everything about the orange man but I still stand 100% behind the stand against how China was doing this kind of things. Don't sell our country out short just so those corporations could make some extra profit.

The other lesson is imagine what would happen if GM had kept the operation? That was also the time GM was about to make the EV1. Talk about short-shightness of those corporations! We can also see the reason why Elon was so adamant about vertical integration.