It's been rumored for more than a year, and now it's confirmed: Dyson, maker of painstakingly-engineered vacuum cleaners and other high-tech home appliances, is moving into the world of electric cars. Sir James Dyson, founder of the company that bears his name, has just announced a bold new plan to offer a range of electric cars as early as 2020.
The UK's AutoExpress reports that Sir James circulated a letter to Dyson employees today informing them of the company's move into electric cars. The founder has committed to a two-billion-pound investment (roughly $2.7 billion at today's exchange rate) in the project - half for the car itself, and half to develop the new solid-state battery technology that will power it.
Sir James told AutoExpress that his company will not seek a partnership with any existing automaker to carry out its car-building plan.
"We’re not a johnny-come-lately to EVs,” Dyson told the British outlet. “I was interested in an all-electric car back in 1998 but the industry wasn’t interested. It wasn’t a fashionable thought in 1998; it wasn’t fashionable three years ago. I was very disappointed that none of [the existing manufacturers] solved this problem until bad publicity about diesel engines forced them to. I didn’t see what an existing manufacturer could offer us.”
The executive revealed to AutoExpress that the project has already been under development for two years, though he admitted that "we don’t have an existing prototype [...] and what we’re doing is quite radical so there’s not an existing chassis that we can use.”
As for what the eventual Dyson car will look like, Sir James was a bit cagey. "It’s not a sports car and it’s not a very cheap car," he told AutoExpress. "It’s about technology and using technology in an interesting way. We’re not going for the Leaf end [of the market]."
Sir James did promise that the Dyson line of electric cars will carry the same design flair that sets the company's appliances apart from the crowd. "There’s no point in doing one that looks like everyone else’s," he said. "We’re not in that business. You’ll have to wait and see. We’re trying to be radical."
AutoExpress reveals that Sir James plans for his company's electric cars to use solid-state batteries, an advanced technology that traditional automakers have not yet fully solved for automotive applications. Solid-state batteries promise more energy capacity, quicker charging, and safer packaging compared to today's lithium-ion batteries.
According to Sir James, the first Dyson electric car will arrive in 2020, and kick off a range of Dyson vehicles. And he expects the automotive branch will become the biggest moneymaker of the Dyson empire.
As he told AutoExpress, "we know it’s a crowded market. But if you produce a product that has tech that’s genuinely better, that product people want, then it’s possible to make money. The vacuum cleaner market was crowded when we entered it, after all. If our car business goes anywhere I’d expect it to be bigger than the rest of it [the other Dyson divisions] quite quickly.”
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