That Sucks: Tesla Was Hip to Dyson's Secret Car Plans Before Any of Us

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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that sucks tesla was hip to dyson s secret car plans before any of us

As you know, Dyson, the vacuum/hairdryer manufacturer, is moving into electric vehicles. The company has made plans to introduce a radical example (with new solid-state batteries) to market by 2020 that will suck and blow you away. But you only found out last year, which was long after Tesla Motors caught wind of a fresh competitor on the horizon.

Apparently, an engineer spilled the beans to Tesla’s legal representation around the same time he was being interviewed for a position at the automaker. If you’re wondering if he got the job, he did.

This is the second time Dyson’s plans for EV secrecy went haywire. Its public announcement wasn’t supposed to be until September of this year. However, a slip-up by the British government saw its National Infrastructure Delivery Plan mention that the public would help fund the company in “developing a new battery electric vehicle” — giving away the secret in 2016.

The more recent case with the Tesla engineer actually predates the governmental snafu, but legal complications stalled any public knowledge of the matter. According to courtroom testimony provided by Bloomberg, 30-year-old French national Pierre Pellerey informed Tesla about Dyson’s electric car over two years before it was made public — resulting in months of legal battles.

Pellerey, a former Dyson employee, had apparently forwarded Dyson’s plans to Tesla lawyer Yusuf Mohamed after successfully interviewing for a position with the company. Discovering the betrayal, Dyson moved for an injunction, preventing Pierre from working for Tesla for nine months. Considering Pellerey’s official hire date at Tesla, that would place the day of the leak somewhere in the middle of 2015.

From Bloomberg:

“Pellerey, a French national and a senior engineer earning 51,000 pounds a year at Dyson’s headquarters in Wiltshire, U.K., accepted a job from Tesla in March 2015, but didn’t immediately tell Dyson because the offer was conditional on getting a visa to work in the U.S., according to the court ruling released this week.

In May, with the visa still not approved, he was called into a secret meeting with two colleagues and told that James Dyson wanted the company to develop an electric car. They would be drafted to work on the confidential project, known only as “Project E.” The three were told to take their laptops and move to a secure area within the research department.”

“I felt a little uncomfortable about being involved in that project, as I knew I would be involved with electric vehicles at Tesla,” Pellerey later explained to the court. He also noted that, had he come forward, he would be risking his career at both companies.

Initially, Dyson issued a letter to the engineer stipulating that he had to wait 12 months before working for Tesla. Understandably concerned, Pellerey handed it over to Tesla’s legal council — who responded by warning him not to publish it on social media, as the company was gearing up for a legal battle with Dyson.

“The disclosure of that letter to Mr. Mohamed told him, a member of the outside world, that DTL [Dyson] was working on an electric car,” Judge Keith Lindblom ruled in February 2016. “That was just the type of disclosure that the Project E team had had impressed upon it that it must not make.”

“It does not require a great deal of imagination to come to the conclusion that DTL would not be going to such trouble if the only confidential information he possessed related to vacuum cleaners and hand dryers,” Judge Snowden said in the earlier October 2015 ruling, which forced Pellerey to wait nine months before beginning work at Tesla Motors.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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4 of 19 comments
  • Tstag Tstag on Nov 07, 2017

    Tesla ought to be worried. Dyson have made a big breakthrough (allegedly in battery tech) and aren't a small third world engineering firm. They can recruit from thousands of qualified engineers in an established car making country. If Dyson succeeds and Tesla don't have comparable battery tech then it will by Dyson who is remembered for reinventing the car not Tesla! No pressure.....

    • See 1 previous
    • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 08, 2017

      @SCE to AUX I wonder if their "breakthrough" consists of figuring out that Bollore will sell them solid-state LMP batteries.

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Nov 07, 2017

    Holy cow! Are they trying to adapt Dyson technology in nuclear sub propulsion? Or is it Tesla time for diesel-electric subs?

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.