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.
Tesla Motors’ $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the world’s vehicles will be plug-ins.
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