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This article introduces a topology of parallel-polarized permanent magnet latching actuator for use in electromagnetic valve actuation systems for internal combustion engines. The actuator has a number of advantages over reluctance actuators, commonly employed in such systems, in terms of reduced starting currents and fail-safe capability. The influence of a number of design features on actuator performance, such as tooth tapering, additional magnets to improve the main magnet flux path and prevent the onset of saturation, and mechanical clearances required to protect the permanent magnet from shock loads are investigated. The design study findings are verified by measurements on a prototype actuator.