Almost five years ago, Honda announced it has developed the world’s first practical application of a hot deformed neodymium magnet that does not contain rare earth metals. At the time, this was considered an important breakthrough for the industry as this practically meant Honda could produce electric motors without heavy rare earth metals such as dysprosium and/or terbium. Now, Mahle has taken things to the next level.

The German automotive parts supplier has just announced its first-ever magnet-free electric motor. It’s currently in the final stages of development and its most important characteristic is that it doesn’t require rare earth elements. Mahle says the technology breakthrough not only “makes production more environmentally compatible” but also brings “advantages in terms of costs and resource security.”

“With our new electric motor, we’re living up to our responsibility as a sustainably operating company,” Michael Frick, Chairman of Mahle, comments “Dispensing with magnets and therefore the use of rare earth elements offers great potential not only from a geopolitical perspective but also with regard to the responsible use of nature and resources.”

Aside from being more environmentally friendly, Mahle’s new electric motor is highly efficient. The company says the magnet-free motor delivers an estimated efficiency of about 95 percent at almost all operating regimes, which is a level of efficiency previously achieved only by Formula E racing cars.

Mahle also promises “a high degree of durability” thanks to the contactless transmission of electrical currents between the rotating and stationary parts inside the motor. Basically, this means the electric motor is maintenance-free and suitable for a wide range of applications.

“Our magnet-free motor can certainly be described as a breakthrough because it provides several advantages that have not yet been combined in a product of this type,” Martin Berger, VP of corporate at Mahle, adds. “As a result, we can offer our customers a product with outstanding efficiency at a comparatively low cost.”