By on March 1, 2018

Noted dust magnate Sir James Dyson is moving ahead at cyclonic speed with his electric car endeavors, hiring 300 new employees to work on an EV due for launch in 2020.

Apparently seeing a vacuum in the car market, Dyson intends to use its expertise and recent acquisition of a battery company to clean up the world’s air pollution. Plans are moving at such a swift rate that the EV team is moving into a new state-of-the-art 750 acre campus, Dyson’s second R&D campus in Britain.

Dyson already makes a V8; sadly, it is simply the name of their cordless stick vacuum cleaner. However, if one puts all the pieces together, a low-volume EV from Dyson is not too far-fetched.

After spending $90 million in 2015 to acquire battery company Sakti3, Dyson does now appear to possess the technology to realistically push forward with the development of an EV. Sakti3, a startup company with connections to the University of Michigan, claims to have developed solid-state lithium-ion batteries which nearly double the punch provided by those found in California’s favorite EV – Tesla.

Claims aside, if Dyson can indeed figure out the solid-state puzzle it will be a huge revolution in battery technology. Right now, lithium-ion batteries generally operate at about 95 degrees Fahrenheit, necessitating complex cooling solutions. Instead of a pressurized liquid electrolyte, solid-state batteries can incorporate a thin layer of non-flammable material to act as both the separator (keeping + and – electrodes from playing together) and electrolyte.

Back in September, the company starting making noise about its forthcoming EV, releasing a wealth of information about the product on Twitter. In the statement, Sir James references his ambition to find a solution to the global problem of air pollution, a goal that certainly aligns with the production of an EV.

At that time, Dyson stated they had “over 400” people working on the EV project, meaning the new hires bring the total number of workers toiling away at a Dyson electric car to be in the neighborhood of 700 people. This, then, sure doesn’t seem like a flash in the pan or some sort of PR stunt. It’s worth noting that James Dyson himself is reportedly investing at least £2 billion of his own money to bring this car to market.

A company seeming to suddenly appear with a ready-for-market electric vehicle is not entirely without precedent. In 2017, a company called Bollinger showed up with its B1, all-electric off-roader complete with impressive off-road creds and t-square styling cues. Dyson (both the company and the inventor) has a long history of innovation and is certainly not risk-adverse, so the thought of a low-volume EV from the company does hold water.

Dyson is based in the U.K. and is a privately-held company. Its revenue has grown to £3.5 billion in 2017 from £1.7 in 2015. Almost three-quarters of that revenue growth has come from Asia. Last year’s earnings topped $1 billion USD.

[Image: Dyson]

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16 Comments on “Dyson Hoovers Up Talent for Electric Car...”

  • avatar

    Will they be as weird and goofy looking as his vacuum cleaners? And made of the same cheap looking plastics?

    I’m betting they’ll suck.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Yeah, Great Britain is just awash in battery engineers… /s

  • avatar

    Every single one will include a central vacuuming system – take that Honda!

  • avatar

    shop vac is developing an amphibious EV.

  • avatar

    This car will suck.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    1. I doubt he has the passion to see this through to the end. At age 70, he’s also got limited time to invest.

    2. 700 employees seems pretty light for EV development, and 2020 is extremely aggressive. If that was true, he’d have a functioning prototype by now, with all the suppliers lined up.

    3. The mythical solid state battery is an enormous risk, and really should be Plan B. Plan A should include a vehicle designed around conventional technology.

    4. Who will want to pay the high price for another low-volume EV?

    • 0 avatar

      For comparison Ford assigned 100 engineers to develop the powertrain conversion for the original Escape Hybrid. Arguably a more difficilt task than a pure ev setup, but they were not also developing new battery technology. Passage of time indicates those 100 engineers did a very good job.

  • avatar

    If Sir James is successful, Elon may as well convert the Gigafactory into self-storage units.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      A successful solid state battery must be/have:
      -low degradation
      -high cycles
      -low weight
      -stable thermal performance

      These mythical solid state batteries are always close, but never here. I suspect they don’t scale well, and/or the costs are astronomical. And if you’re going to build EVs, then you need to invest billions on the gamble that your solid state battery costs can be competitive.

      Tesla has invested billions just to scale production of existing technology. Who’s going to take the chance and *actually* build a solid state battery ‘Gigafactory’? Hint: It won’t be conservative Toyota.

      • 0 avatar

        Good points – although to be fair some of these points are still iffy on the “old” tech batteries that Elon is making in Nevada – after all he keeps blaming battery snafus on the delays in building up Model 3 production.

      • 0 avatar

        The holy solid-state battery already exists–thanks, Bollore! It’s just that it self-discharges at an alarming rate. That’s fine for the Bollore Bluecar car sharing service where the vehicle is usually plugged into the docking station charger awaiting its next renter anyway. Not so fine for a private car sitting in a garage for a night or two before the novice owner remembers to plug it in.

  • avatar

    “…seeing a vacuum in the car market, Dyson intends to use its expertise…”

    Normally I’d say you should be ashamed, but I don’t think I could have resisted going there either.

  • avatar

    I actually have one of those Dyson V8 cordless vacs; it’s far and away the best vacuum cleaner I’ve ever used. Lightweight and cordless, yet picks up as well as heavy plug-in units. Very quiet. A cinch to clean out – hold it over a trash can and press a button, it empties the collected dirt and cleans the filter in one action. Comfortable-to-hold handle. Easy to use attachments. A roller brush that’s right at the front of the floor part and reaches all the way to the left & right edges, so you can get right up against walls or corners. The battery lasts long enough to clean the whole house. Can be used as just a dustbuster, or you can attach a tube and it will clean high shelves or curtains. It hangs on the wall when you’re done with it.

    It’s an exquisite piece of industrial engineering, designed by people who sweated the details and got everything right. If their EVs are anything like their vacuum cleaners, look out, automotive world.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      The cinch to clean out part is where the design shines. Anywhere that a normal vacuum clogs can be popped right off and easily cleared. Mine is 12 years old so while more costly initially, It has paid for itself as we typically got 2 or 3 years out of them prior to that.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    If you listen to podcasts, the recent ‘How I Built This’ with Dyson was worth your time if you don’t know much about him beyond the commercials.

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