Permanent Magnets

What are permanent magnets for electrified vehicles?

What are permanent magnets for electrified vehicles?

There’s no denying that electrified vehicles (EV) represent the future of the automotive industry. E-mobility is a cleaner, more responsible, and more-sustainable mode of transportation as consumers and manufacturers increasingly move away from internal combustion engines.

A key component enabling the EV revolution are powerful and highly efficient e-drive traction motors using to the largest extent permanent magnets; also known as rare earth magnets due to them containing so-called rare-earth elements, such as neodymium, terbium, and dysprosium.


How do permanent magnets work?

Permanent magnets are unique in generating their own constant magnetic field. As their magnetism is ‘always on’, they’re widely regarded as the most effective method to power electrified vehicles. This, combined with the fact that they deliver greater range and allow manufacturers to produce lighter vehicles, makes them the first choice for powering energy efficient electric motors.

Depending on the design, an electric vehicle contains between 2 kg and 4 kg of permanent magnets. The magnetic field these magnets emit opposes that produced by a coil. This repulsive effect causes the coil to rotate at high speed, and when attached to the axle of a vehicle, creates motion.

For automakers, the performance of electrified vehicles relies on generating a magnetic field with a sufficiently strong repulsive effect. The strongest permanent magnets are made with rare earth materials, with neodymium magnets – or FeNdB magnets – being the most powerful available commercially.

A desire to keep the overall space envelope as small as possible is another factor that comes into play for manufacturers. Again, neodymium magnets generate a higher energy density, resulting in smaller batteries and achieve higher power densities.


The challenge of meeting demand for permanent magnets

The projected growth of the EV market is exponential. A recent report predicts that by 2030 up to 45% of the vehicle sales will be EVs, which in-turn is driving demand in the EV manufacturing supply chain for permanent magnets – a supply that, currently, the market is struggling to meet.

GKN Electric Car permanent magnets graphic - body crop.png

Part of the challenge is that automotive is not the only industry sourcing permanent magnets. They’re widely used in wind turbines, consumer electronics and other applications in the renewable energy sector and feature extensively within the electronic and defence industries.

Automakers have historically relied on Asia for the vast majority of their permanent magnets – sourcing around 90% of the global supply from one place. This regional imbalance, together with the volatile geopolitical landscape, is creating challenges for many OEMs, especially for those from the EU and US. This is forcing OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to look for alternative sources of permanent magnets for electrified vehicles.

GKN Permanent magnets - quote update.png

As a trusted supply and innovation partner to global automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers for decades, GKN Powder Metallurgy knows better than anyone the challenges facing the EV manufacturing industry, and the required solutions.

We bring much needed stability to the supply of permanent magnets, with a commitment to increase production to 4,000 tonnes of permanent magnets by 2025. This dependable, local – to local supply – manufactured in our facilities in North America and Europe – brings peace of mind to our partners and provides the required reassurance to plan with certainty.


GKN Powder Metallurgy – a sustainable choice

We are committed to sustainability, which includes achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in all our operations worldwide by 2050. Read more about how we’re working responsibly

A reliable, local-to-local supply of permanent magnets is essential for automakers to expand EV production and grow their operations with confidence. That’s what GKN Powder Metallurgy brings to the global permanent magnet for EV market.

Speak to our experts today

Jürgen Neumair
Jürgen Neumair
Your contact for conventional PM

"Through a resilient and dependable supply of permanent magnets, driven by processes adapted for the needs of permanent magnet production, GKN Powder Metallurgy is set to be a key player in powering the future of the EV market"