Dyson, the British company known best for its vacuum cleaners, has announced it plans to bring an electric vehicle to the marketplace by 2020.
Company founder Sir James Dyson has revealed few details about the project, citing the need to keep things confidential in the fiercely competitive auto industry, but says the firm is “committed to investing 2 billion pounds ($3.3 billion CDN) on this endeavour,” adding he already has a team of 400 people in place and is “recruiting aggressively.”
In an email Dyson sent to his employees, which was subsequently used to make his plans public, he references the company’s work on new battery technologies and the digital motors used in its hair dryers and cordless vacuums, suggesting an intent to scale both technologies up for use in vehicles.
This is not Dyson’s first attempt to break into the transportation industry. In the 1990s, he developed prototypes for a cyclonic filter (like the ones that eventually went into Dyson vacuums) to capture diesel exhaust soot particles after learning of a link between diesel exhaust and premature deaths.
At the time, no automaker was interested in adopting Dyson’s invention, and it was abandoned.
While Dyson’s latest plan would see the company jump on an existing bandwagon, industry experts say designing a car from scratch and bringing it to market is extremely ambitious. According to Forbes, that tight timeline would guarantee the vehicle would have to be positioned as a premium product, as Tesla does with its electric vehicle models.
Dyson’s advantage over Tesla is that while it’s new to building cars, it has established itself as a profitable and well-known manufacturer of consumer products, while Tesla has had to rely on capital investments to stay in business.