writes "It must be serious if Yahoo is reporting on it. From TFA:
The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods.
That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells
"Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Prius "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world."
Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said.
So when we will start seeing organized gangs of "neo-jackers" using specialized tools to rip the magnets out of electric motors so they can be sold back to the folks they were stolen from the way minivan seats were being stolen and resold a few years back?"Link to Original Source