By on March 25, 2016

Dyson vacuum cleaner

The maker of all things that blow is apparently sucking up some government cash to build an electric car.

Britain’s The Guardian is reporting that Dyson is receiving a public subsidy from the British government to develop an EV, a project that will no doubt draw from the company’s depth of knowledge regarding small electric motors.

The reveal is something of a slip-up by the government. When the country’s National Infrastructure Delivery Plan was published, out popped an interesting nugget:

The government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This will secure £174m of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering

The document doesn’t say exactly how much cash is being handed to the maker of creepy, bladeless fans and bagless vacuum cleaners that make domestic life bliss, but Dyson CEO Max Conze didn’t rule out the possibility of creating an EV when asked last year.

Automakers have been on a buying tear lately, snapping up high-tech startups and signalling their EV intentions to anyone who’ll listen, meaning a non-automotive company like Dyson can fly under the radar with its plans.

The company, which sounds like a great addition to one’s investment portfolio (revenue is positively booming), has its own cash reserves to fling around on development. It bought a U.S. battery maker last year for $90 million, and has stated its intention to invest one billion pounds ($1.41 billion) in battery technology, and another 1.5 billion pounds into research and development.

The UK’s intentions to spur a futuristic car’s development via public cash might cause those who remember the DeLorean Motor Company to raise an eyebrow, but Dyson’s recent acquisitions and financial strength make this investment seem far less risky than the chance it took on the gull-winged wonder.

It’s nice to learn that the home of Roger Moore and Sting isn’t letting Germany have all the fun when it comes to EV development. Who knows, Dyson could become Britain’s Tesla (another company that’s no stranger to public subsidies).

Only this Tesla also builds a hand-drying fan that makes trips to restaurant bathrooms a pure joy.

[Image: Robert Scarth/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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48 Comments on “Don’t Worry, Dyson’s Got This Electric Car Thing in the Bag...”

  • avatar

    If it’s like the vacuums, the car will cost 5 times as much as it’s competition , and will only work for 5 minutes at a time.

  • avatar

    Nah, I would much prefer a Dremel electric car.

  • avatar

    For every suck, there is an equal blow.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Self-cleaning car!

  • avatar

    This is Dyson. They will rebadge a Prius and sell it for $150,000.

    • 0 avatar

      And they will claim to have invented it just as they did with the brushless DC motor. They are the Bose of the small appliance world: lots of hard-marketed cheap plastic wrapped up in pseudo-science, sold at prices many multiples of its actual value.

  • avatar

    Going to out on a limb and guess this turns out to be an iStream project (Gordon Murray’s new car assembly technology).

  • avatar

    I have used a Dyson and they do a really good job cleaning, as expected.

    However, all of their models have to be the flimsiest I’ve ever seen. There are $50 vacuums much sturdier than a Dyson. Granted, the $50 Walmart specials don’t clean nearly as well.

    The Sanitaire commercial upright is probably the best buy out there. It’s not $600 worth of flimsy plastic and it outperforms a Dyson.

    I could only imagine the Dyson approach in cars: good engine, decent performance, but a flimsy body and frame and a price tag that makes the Model S Tesla a screaming deal.

    • 0 avatar

      $100 used sanitaire for the win if you use micro liner bags til half full and change belts frequently.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree on the Dyson. I bought one once because of the no loss of suction claims. The problem with Bayless vacuums since the original Fantoms is how quickly they clog. You have to watch the side of the bin, and when the little vortex reaches the marked line, you have to empty it. This results in very little debris, and constant emptying. Otherwise they will clog up and you have to take the whole thing apart and get dust out of absolutely every last passage. Dyson claimed to have solved this issue but you have the same warnings in the manual and it clogs just as quickly. I finally saw the light and went back to bags. A commercial Oreck that has been a monster.

  • avatar

    The guys who did for cleaning what Bose did for audio? Getting into car design? How wonderful.

  • avatar

    Dyson has a long history of making products that suck.

    Someone had to be the first.

  • avatar

    I can only imagine the amount of plastic they will use for the bodywork. And Honda had better patent their Odyssey with the vacuum cleaner. And Dyson will patent a vacuum cleaner with a car? He, he….

  • avatar

    If Dyson do plan to build an electric car then they have three things going for them. A possible lead in electric batteries and also electric motors as well as plenty of cash to spend on R&D. Conceivably they could build their own Tesla Model S.

    But the smartest thing they could do if they want to build their own cars is buddy up with another car maker in the premium sector. This would give them access to engineers, components, factories, etc. Critically they would also have an easier time getting things like the fit and finish of an interior up to a standard that the premium sector demands (assuming that’s the market they are chasing). If it is they only need go up the road to access those people at JLR. Who coincidentally are also developing their own electric motors….

    • 0 avatar

      what “lead in electric motors?” Dyson uses the same series-wound universal motors that any other vacuum cleaner does, and those have practically no automotive relevance.

      It took Tesla 10 years and billions of dollars to ship their first homegrown car.

      • 0 avatar

        Dyson would have to partner with an auto company just like LG did. LG has a great deal of motor and battery expertise, but partnered with GM on the Chevy Bolt instead of producing their own car. GM provided expertise and assets that LG lacked, so they were able to gain valuable experience without the massive learning curve and expenditures that Tesla experienced. I think Apple, Google, and any other Consumer Electronics companies thinking about the auto business need to take the same route.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle


          I wouldn’t be surprised if LG and GM had gone through more expenditures than Tesla.

          Tesla is lean and mean, but GM’s been known to drop billions without having anything to show for it.

      • 0 avatar

        JimZ claims: “what ‘lead in electric motors?’ Dyson uses the same series-wound universal motors that any other vacuum cleaner does, and those have practically no automotive relevance.”

        Dyson makes ultra-high speed (100K rpm plus) brushless DC motors of their own design.

        Of course it’d take an awful lot of these plus one hell of a gear reduction to propel a car.

      • 0 avatar

        My understanding is Dyson use a brushless motor instead of brushed one like everyone else, so you have a lot of expensive electronics, but it is quieter, more powerful (for the same current draw, limited by the wall outlet in the US to about 15A usually), but not as durable.

        My guess is they are tapped because they have expertise in servo control and power electronics. However, many other industries have these expertise and if UK have to tap them to build EV yet couldn’t find them in other industries (material handling, robotics, defense, locomotives, semiconductors, power generation, etc), then this nation has really gone downhill since the industrial revolution.

  • avatar

    This is gonna tick off all the EV greenies here and start another round of “gas/oil get subsidies as well…” But the art of business today is a big part playing the government funding game.
    Get yours while you can.

    “(revenue is positively booming),”…it helps that you can save some of your money by using taxpayer money.

    You would be crazy NOT to apply for this free money. Just like you would be crazy to not take every deduction allowable by law each April.

    I have 75 year old so called research professionals here in Florida that made their entire careers on government research funding.
    Its what they do. They know how to play the game, where to look and fill out the grant appl. forms to get the money. Then mail in some stupid finding that changes and helps nothing.

    Rinse and repeat until you retire.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “It’s nice to learn that the home of Roger Moore and Sting isn’t letting Germany have all the fun when it comes to EV development.”

    England is the home of many people, so I don’t know why you selected these two to mention. Just being clever, I suppose.

    Besides, you forgot that Aston Martin (you know, an actual car company whose products Mr Moore is familiar with, since you brought up his name), is developing the RapidE EV. So, no, Germany isn’t doing all the EV development.

    This piece was so riddled with poorly-expressed (let alone incorrect) opinions that it hardly rates as a news piece.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      [edit button isn’t working…]

      “…Tesla (another company that’s no stranger to public subsidies)”

      Please explain this statement.

      1. If you’re referring to Federal loans, they were paid back – early.

      2. If you’re referring to the EV subsidy that buyers receive, why not mention Nissan, BMW, Ford, and others? That subsidy has ‘bought’ more Leaf sales than Tesla sales, since the Leaf is half the price of any Tesla.

      3. If you’re referring state and local incentives to build its factories, how is this different from every other car mfr in the world?

      Rather than make oblique jabs at Tesla in a “news” piece, just write an editorial.

      • 0 avatar

        Maybe it was making an important point about all of these subsidies.
        Not just picking on Tesla, although t me using tax money towards rich folk purchases makes it even harder to swallow. This is not exactly a real move to help create jobs ot industry…just a PC consumer purchase lifestyle change bet made by costy gov policy.

        Yes, IF we wanna be fair…get out of ALL the gov subsidy madness. From the horrid sports stadiums to the car and other consumer manipulation the great minds of government or lobbyist create.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Agreed in principle, but government seems to like choosing winners, egged on by the winner wannabes.

          Full disclosure: I received subsidies for my former Leaf (not the ‘rich guy’ Tesla stereotype), which was the only way I would have considered such a purchase (lease). I am not so principled that I’ll turn down money on the table, even though I don’t think it should be there in the first place.

          In another post, my maths showed how the EV subsidy is actually quite paltry. If 10 companies somehow managed to each sell 200k EVs by 2020 (10 years after the program started), it would only add up to $15 billion total. Relatively speaking, that’s nothing in 10 years’ time, but the subsidy thing remains a sore subject for many.

  • avatar

    Dyson? U.K.? Meh…in vacuum cleaners as in automobiles one must look to das vaterland for the best…Miele…uber alles!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    As we speak, Dyson is secretly sending engineers to “The North” and The Midlands to find hidden and quite well-preserved volumes of Lucas technical manuals and schematics. We all know British Leyland excelled at vehicle electrics; it should be a good start for Dyson. The engineers may be aided by having Jeremy Clarkson singing in the background. I’m quite sure more information will be forthcoming in such scintillating reporting such as this.

    • 0 avatar

      Good luck with that. I think Bosch got to those documents years ago. I swear, it seems like everything that ever failed on my BMWs had Bosch stamped on it somewhere. Then there was the Bosch dishwasher that self-immolated in my kitchen.

  • avatar

    I have Soniclean which I bought for $189.99 and I bet it cleans better than Dyson. BTW they are not into car business. But there are always people who desperately want to depart with their money, but I suspect that they would rather buy Tesla or Mercedes than Dyson.

    It is a sad testament of death of British Empire and following state of British economy if only company they can rely on to build British EV is Dyson which best part is an American battery company.

  • avatar

    Dyson could get a head start by partnering with VW, producing hybrid drivetrains to replace all the cheating TDI diesels. It’s a win all around – VW owners all get a new European engine and 50 MPG, VW can claim they engineered the fix, the air gets cleaner, and Dyson gets to alpha test their technology, so when the plastic bits break off, Volkswagen gets the blame.

  • avatar

    Personally, I’d be more concerned about a Roomba car than a Dyson.

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