SAN JOSE, CALIF.—Electric vehicles are all about small gains in efficiency leading to increased range. Reduce the drag, tweak the acceleration curve, and increase the regenerative braking, and you get a few more miles. Car tech company Tula has come up with another solution to enhance efficiency.
Called Dynamic Motor Drive (DMD), the system pulses the electric motor to operate within a “sweet spot” of efficiency. DMD adds efficiency and removes one of the more controversial materials found in EV motors: rare earth metals. The result is an efficiency gain of about 3 percent. That’s not a huge boost, but if your vehicle gets 300 miles of range, for instance, you get nine extra miles of road you can cover. But the system also sets itself up to work in a world with fewer rare earth magnets.
Those rare earth magnets cost automakers a pretty penny, and they’re not aligned with the green positioning of EVs. Currently, 90 percent of the EV industry’s materials for these magnets (mostly neodymium) come from China. Since late 2021, the price of those materials has increased by about 90 percent. There are plans to increase rare earth mining in the US, but considering the environmental precautions that need to be taken, it still won’t be cheap.
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