An Assessment of the Rare Earth Element Content of Conventional and Electric Vehicles
Rare earths are a group of elements whose availability has been of concern due to monopolistic supply conditions and environmentally unsustainable mining practices. To evaluate the risks of rare earths availability to automakers, a first step is to determine raw material content and value in vehicles. This task is challenging because rare earth elements are used in small quantities, in a large number of components, and by suppliers far upstream in the supply chain. For this work, data on rare earth content reported by vehicle parts suppliers was assessed to estimate the rare earth usage of a typical conventional gasoline engine midsize sedan and a full hybrid sedan. Parts were selected from a large set of reported parts to build a hypothetical typical mid-size sedan. Estimates of rare earth content for vehicles with alternative powertrain and battery technologies were made based on the available parts' data.