James Dyson, the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, said on Tuesday his company was working on developing an electric car to be launched by 2020.
Dyson said he was spending $US2.7 billion to exploit his company’s expertise in solid-state battery technology and electric motors.
“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,” Dyson said.
Dyson said a 400-strong team of engineers had already spent 2-1/2 years working on the hitherto secret car project.
However, the car itself still has to be designed and the choice of battery to be 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, he said.
Dyson said his 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.
“We are not a johnny-come-lately onto the scene of electric cars,” he said.
“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.”
But the car does not yet have a design nor a chassis, he said, and the company had not yet decided where it will be made, beyond ruling out working with the 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, and where it is logistically most sensible.
“And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East.”
Dyson gave no details of the concept for the vehicle, beyond saying it would not be like anything else already on the market.
“There’s no point in doing one that looks like everyone else’s,” he said, adding that it would not be a sports car and it would not be “a very cheap” car.