LG Innotek Develops World's First "Rare Earth Free" Automotive DCT Motor
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA -- Aug. 28, 2014: LG Innotek, a leading global components manufacturer, today announced that the company has developed world's first "rare earth free" automotive dual-clutch transmission (DCT) motor. The development of the new DCT motor and associated manufacturing and quality control equipment will lead to its production by LG Innotek early next year.
The motor marks an important breakthrough since it will ease concerns among automakers about their reliance on uncertain rare earth supplies. Rare earth elements are usually used in materials for automotive motors, but they are difficult to source and are subject to sharp price increases when supplies dwindle. There are only small and concentrated reserves worldwide of the rare earth minerals, which are often used to provide magnetic properties for automotive motors. This new motor also reflects LG Innotek's efforts to protect the environment since the mining, refining and disposal of rare earth minerals can cause environmental damage.
Minerals like Neodymium (Nd) and Dysprosium (Dy) are considered essential in the manufacture of DCT motors due to their magnetic properties. The automotive industry has been studying alternatives to rare earth minerals, but it has faced difficulties because other materials were not as suitable.
The DCT motor is a core driving system component that is attached to a dual-clutch automatic transmission. This motor powers the dual-clutch automatic transmission in a fast and precise manner to enable the switching of gears swiftly and smoothly to adjust to different driving conditions.
The dual-clutch automatic transmission equipped with the DCT motor is gaining attention in Europe and other developed markets since it delivers up to 12 percent better fuel efficiency than regular automatic transmissions and 5 percent better fuel efficiency than manual transmissions.
LG Innotek has developed its own technology in motor structure design and succeeded in creating the rare earth free DCT motor that meets required performance standards, while being 4 percent lighter despite being similar in size to conventional DCT motors.
The company spent more than two years in developing the technology and registered 13 related Korean and foreign patent applications.
LG Innotek is focusing on developing electronic automotive components as part of the IT convergence in the automotive sector, of which the new DCT motor is an example.
The new DCT motor will start being produced at LG Innotek's automotive components plant in Mexico from early next year. The company is committed to actively drive market expansion of the DCT motor as the demand increases due to its improvement on driving performance and fuel efficiency.
LG Innotek believes the rare earth free DCT motor will be popular among customers because it meets performance, size and weight requirements while guaranteeing a stable supply.