Dyson planning electric car by 2020

The company responsible for the bagless vacuum cleaner will use its expertise in solid-state battery technology and electric motors for its own electric vehicle.
Written by Jonathan Chadwick, Contributor

Dyson is working on an electric car to be launched in 2020, according to the company's founder James Dyson.

The company currently has a dedicated team made up of 400 Dyson engineers and automotive experts, and is continuing to recruit for the £2 billion project, the founder said.

Details on the vehicle's concept were scant, but Dyson did say that it would be unlike anything else on the market, as "there's no point in doing one that looks like everyone else's". Dyson added that it would not be a sports car, nor would it be "a very cheap" car.

Although the choice of battery is yet to be finalised, the company said it is backing solid-state batteries over the lithium-ion ones used in existing electric vehicles (EVs), because they are safer, quicker to charge, potentially more powerful, and less prone to overheating.

He also said that the vehicle does not yet have a design or a chassis, and that the company has not decided on where it will be made, although he didn't rule out working with big car companies.

"Wherever we make the battery, we'll make the car, that's logical," he said. "So we want to be near our suppliers, we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East."

Dyson added that the team of engineers for the EV project has already been running for two and a half years in secret, although his interest in EV technology goes back almost 30 years, saying the company is not "a johnny-come-lately onto the scene of electric cars".

As far back as 1988, the founder researched the damage the exhaust from diesel engines causes, before a team at his company began work on a cyclonic filter that could be fitted onto a vehicle's exhaust to trap sooty particles. By 1993, the company had developed working prototypes of the technology, Dyson said, but stopped the project due to a lack of interest.

Despite this, the company continued to work on new battery technology, resulting in the Dyson digital motors and energy storage systems that power their hair dryer and vacuum lines.

Dyson pointed to the World Health Organisation's statistic that in 2012, around 7 million people died -- one in eight of total global deaths -- as a result of air pollution exposure, and said that it is the company's obligation to offer a solution.

"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. "Battery technology is very important to Dyson ... I have been developing these technologies consistently because I could see that one day we could do a car.

"We finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single project. Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source."

Other manufacturers pushing R&D of EVs include Swedish automaker Volvo, which announced plans to give every vehicle on its production line an electric motor by 2019, saying the shift "places electrification at the core of its future business".

The company plans to launch five pure EVs between 2019 and 2021, all of which will have petrol and diesel hybrid options, and wants to sell at least 1 million EVs by 2025.

Porsche is also considering the switch to EVs, and is set to make a decision on its by the end of the decade.

China, France, and Britain are among the countries that have announced plans to phase out fuel cars in the next 25 years. Earlier this month, China's Deputy Industry Minister Xin Guobin said that his ministry has begun "research on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles" as a way of curbing the country's carbon emissions.

France, meanwhile, will gradually reduce the sale and advertising of traditional cars in favour of electric alternatives, and, by 2040, it is hoping an outright ban will be in place. The overall aim is to make the country carbon neutral by 2050.

In July, the UK outlined plans to ban all diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040. UK ministers believe poor air cost the nation up to £2.7 billion in lost productivity in one year, according to The Guardian.

With AAP

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