James Dyson, the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, has announced his company is working on an electric car which is expected to be launched by 2020.
According to Reuters, Dyson said he was spending 2 billion pounds (RM11.3 billion) to exploit his namesake company’s expertise in solid-state battery technology and electric motors which are present in the brand’s vacuum cleaners and other products such as bladeless fans and air purifiers.
“Battery technology is very important to Dyson, electric motors are very important to Dyson, environmental control is very important to us.
“I have been developing these technologies consistently because I could see that one day we could do a car,” he said.
He said a team of over 400 engineers had already spent two and a half years working on the secret car project, but the car itself has yet to be designed and the choice of battery finalised.
The company was backing solid-state rather than the lithium ion technology used in existing electric vehicles because it was safer, the batteries would not overheat, were quicker to charge and potentially more powerful.
Dyson’s ambition to go it alone was driven by the car industry’s dismissal of an idea he had of applying his cyclonic technology that revolutionised vacuum cleaners to handle diesel emissions in car exhaust systems in the 1990s.
“It has been my ambition since 1998 when I was rejected by the industry, which has happily gone on making polluting diesel engines, and governments have gone on allowing it,” he said.
There had already been clues that Dyson was working on a car.
The company has been hiring executives from Aston Martin and last year the government said in a report it was helping to fund development work on an electric vehicle at the firm, although the entry was quickly changed.
Dyson said he was coming clean now because it was becoming harder to talk to subcontractors, government and potential new employees.
However, the car does not have a design or chassis yet, and the company is still undecided on where it will be manufactured beyond ruling out working with big car companies.
”Wherever we make the battery, we’ll make the car, that’s logical; so we want to be near our suppliers, we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible.
“And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East,” said Dyson.
Details on the vehicle’s concept were not disclosed, but he said it would not be like anything else already on the market.
He added that it would not be a sports car or a “very cheap” car.