Sir James Dyson, the British founder and face of the Dyson Inc., is famous for creating sleek vacuum cleaners, blow dryers, and fans without blades. Now, the multibillionaire is setting his sights on the competitive world of electric car manufacturing.
Rumors of this new project first started circulating during Spring 2016 when a report indicated that Dyson received a government grant to finance research into battery technology. Dyson confirmed the rumors last year and announced that the company was working to release their first electric vehicle in 2020. It turns out the company has dedicated about 400 engineers to work on Dyson’s new electric car line. Last week, the founder shared new details to about the ambitious project.
So far, Dyson’s plan seems similar to Tesla’s initial approach. The company plans to first release a limited amount of high-end electric cars. Dyson may only release about 10,000 or fewer cars in this round. This approach would allow them to get the supply chain in order, fund development for more affordable electric cars, and get a feel for the market.
In fact, once Dyson gets a handle on its electric vehicle consumers, they plan to release two more electric cars at a higher volume. The bigger question is which cars will include solid-state battery technology.
Compared to lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries are generally considered safer, more energy dense, and faster charging. While Dyson had planned to include this superior battery technology in the first electric car model, it seems the team may not be able to develop it in time to meet the release deadline. Still, they will most likely include the solid-state batteries in the second and third car models. To create this newer technology, Dyson acquired Skati3, a company based in the United States which specializes in solid-state batteries.
According to the Financial Times, even though Dyson expects to release its first electric car in two years, the timeline may be moved depending on how soon they can choose a manufacturing site. The founder said, "Wherever we make the battery, we'll make the car; that's logical. So we want to be near our suppliers; we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East.”
While Dyson wants these electric cars to be "radically different" from others on the market, he still has plenty of competition. Toyota engineers are close to perfecting solid-state batteries, for example, and Porche has mentioned investing in the tech, as well.
Although some may consider this to be a risky investment, Dyson has gone all in and put £2 billion toward this venture. It may pay off, if whoever masters this technology has an edge in the market. At any rate, the competition may serve to get electric vehicles on the road faster.