It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods.
That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells.
Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012.
Toyota has 70 percent of the U.S. market for vehicles powered by a combination of an internal-combustion engine and electric motor. The Prius is its No. 1 hybrid seller.
Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Prius "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world."
Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said.
Toyota plans to sell 100,000 Prius cars in the United States alone for 2009, and 180,000 next year. The company forecasts sales of 1 million units per year starting in 2010.
Originally posted by Chakotay
Mass transpo ensures mass waste of fuel and metals. It goes where you don't work, when you don't work, even if you don't go that day.
It goes and goes, and we bicycle commuters watch the empty windows as the busses pass.
The real answer: live where, or within walking/biking distance, of where you work.
Commuting of any kind is the oldest sucker game on Earth.
Mine the moon. Mine the asteroids. But the fact is, as the OP stated, hybrids are a sucker profit game by Big Auto that do NOTHING to reduce carbon dioxide (more coal is burned to charge batteries) and suck up TONS of toxic materials. Do the math: if you make electricity, there are resistance and radiation losses at every step. Direct application of power (internal combustion) is more efficient and uses less resources.