A story in today’s Wall Street Journal suggests that Toyota may eventually need to buy its Prius batteries from China. The newspaper claims that China “controls 95% of the world’s supply of rare earth” metals and that Beijing has drafted a policy that would shrink the country’s annual export of them. Reportedly, the Prius incorporates about 12 kg of lanthanum in each of its batteries. Chinese officials have said they don’t plan on hording rare earth metals, but are trying to get manufacturers to set up facilities in China.
A half century ago, cars were still built by people, not robots. Even on some of the countryís longest assembly lines, human workers installed windows, doors, hoods, engines, windshields, and batteries, with no robotic aid.
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