FIRST he swept through the vacuum cleaner market; then his hand-dryers blew away paper towels; since last year he has been putting the wind up rivals with his hair-dryers. Now Sir James Dyson, Britain’s most successful living engineer, may be poised to enter the electric car market.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Dyson was asked whether a future generation of engineering students at the new Dyson Institute of Technology would work on a rumoured Dyson car. He replied, mysteriously: “Who know? Who knows?”
Asked about the appointment of senior personnel from Aston Martin and Tesla, Dyson responded: “Yes, we hire quite a few people. We do that all the time. We increase our engineering workforce by about 30% every year.”
“Wait and see”
When pushed on the idea of a Dyson car, the inventor said people would have to wait and see. A spokesman told us the company does not comment on future products, adding: “James Dyson’s comments are all we’ve said on this matter.”
Rumours about the development of an electric car have been circulating since 2008, after Dyson said the company’s “digital” motor could power a car.
In 2015 Dyson bought the battery technology company Sakti3, which was developing a solid-state lithium battery that could outperform conventional liquid lithium-ion cells. Longer battery life is seen as the key to converting drivers to electric cars.
And in March last year a National Infrastructure Delivery Plan document revealed: “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.” However, within 24 hours all mention of electric cars had been expunged from the document.
The recent poaching of executives from Aston Martin and Tesla – including Ian Minards, the engineer who led the development of the Vanquish V12 – has fuelled speculation that Dyson is either developing a car of its own or planning to develop a business licensing or selling solid-state batteries to car makers.