By on November 7, 2017

vacuum cleaner

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.

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19 Comments on “That Sucks: Tesla Was Hip to Dyson’s Secret Car Plans Before Any of Us...”

  • avatar

    I feel like I want Jack Baruth’s take on this.

    The burning question on everyone’s mind however is: “Will the Dyson car have ‘the proper amount of suction’?”

  • avatar

    Well, at least Dyson knows how to get products to market within a timeline…

  • avatar

    Better lock up your animals. Dyson is known for how it picks up pet hair.

  • avatar

    Dyson poroducts look like Star Wars Crapola IMO. And their advertising is all about the sizzle , not the steak. Now they want to build a car? Good Luck!

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t speak for how long it will last – I’ve only had it a year – but my Dyson V8 cordless vac is all kinds of awesome. Lasts a long time on a charge, quiet, picks up as well as a big corded vac, very lightweight, easy to empty the dustbin and clean out the filter, and the rolling brush reaches right to the edges. It’s rather expensive, but worth it for its great design.

  • avatar

    My wife’s poor purchase decisions have required that I attain some expertise in the repair of Dyson vacs. As unusual as it would be to operate a vehicle that rolls around on one ball, I don’t trust the company to build anything that’s expected to last more than a few years.

    • 0 avatar

      Get her into old Kirby vacs, a few years ago I picked up one cheap for a family member and it hasnt required any work so far.

    • 0 avatar

      I did a stint in vacuum repair a few years ago and our boneyard was packed with Dysons. A couple hundred easily. One of my jobs as the new guy was putting together “working” vacs we could sell as refurbs. What a nightmare. Absolute junk. Just pay a little more and get a Meile or Riccar or whatever old Electrolux is calling itself now. And bags. Bags are always the answer, there isn’t a bagless made that’s worth a shit.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m not sure what the point of this story is.

    Dyson’s engineer jumped ship to Tesla, with the incidental knowledge that his current employer was planning to build an EV. So, in the interest of legally protecting Dyson’s intellectual property, he had to wait 9 months to work for Tesla.

    Everything worked out as it should. This is nothing like the Waymo/Google debacle.

  • avatar

    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…..

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Battery ‘breakthroughs’ are so common these days, yet none of them ever reaches production.

      The sticking points are always these:
      energy density
      unit cost
      startup cost
      thermal performance
      discharge rate
      material sourcing
      charging protocol – an awesome battery requires awesome charging rates, which nobody has. If you want to fill a 60 kWh battery in 5 minutes, you need almost 1 megawatt of charging capacity.

      It took Tesla 5 years to begin producing the Roadster, which was based upon a rolling Lotus chassis. And now they’ve built their own Gigafactory for batteries – a multi-year effort that is just now bearing fruit.

      I really can’t see Dyson being any threat to Tesla for a very, very long time.

  • avatar

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

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