Unless China and Japan can sort out their shit and the exportation of rare earth elements can proceed into Japan, the future of electric cars could be thrown into jeopardy. Production of cars like the Prius could slow down dangerously.
According to the New York Times, a tiff between China and Japan over the capture of a Chinese fishing trawler captain after he was caught fishing in Japanese waters (and then collided into two Coast Guard ships) has escalated to the point where China is reportedly refusing to export the sought-after elements for use in electric car manufacturing.
Cars such as Toyota's Prius use 1kg of neodymium and up to 15kg of lanthanum (pictured) per unit in production, and with China holding 90 per cent of the world's neodymium under lock and key, Japan will be wanting to sort out this "business matter" fairly quickly.
According to China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economics, nothing amiss has happened - but if Japan doesn't get anywhere with their talks, they may be forced to take it up with the World Trade Organisation. [NYT via Salon]
Image Credit: Thermograde