Carmakers and EU legislators are pushing electric cars as the future of eco-friendly, sustainable transport – yet their motors are made using rare earth metals, the mining of which is "incredibly destructive to the environment."
They're the words of James Widmer of Newcastle University, who is part of a team looking to replace these rare earth metals with steel, which is cheaper, less damaging to the environment and more widely available.
The team, which comprises engineers from technology companies as well as Newcastle University, has attracted £518,000 in Government funding to develop a low cost, high volume electric motor that uses no expensive rare earth material.
It's estimated that the electric vehicle market will increase from the two million sold globally in 2010 to almost 50 million in 2020.
"If we are to pursue electric and hybrid vehicles as a truly greener option then we need to look not only at the fuel but also the materials we are using to develop the various components," says Widmer.
By which time, according to Back II The Future, all cars will fly and be powered by banana skins and flat lager. We can't wait.