Dyson, the engineering company most famous for its cordless vacuum cleaners and other household appliances such as fans and air purifiers, has abandoned its ambitious plans to enter the electric car market. Founder James Dyson had been confident that his company’s expertise in battery technology, managing supply lines and manufacturing facilities would allow it to develop and bring to market a Dyson EV.
Dyson’s automotive unit, which employs 523 between Dyson’s R&D centre in Hullavington, Wiltshire and Singapore where it was establishing manufacturing facilities, had already developed a vehicle described as a “fantastic car” and begun road testing it. However, the pace at which the big traditional car manufacturers are now entering the EV sector has ambushed Dyson’s ambitions and led its founder to the conclusion he could “no longer see a way to make it commercially viable”.
The development is a major about turn from Dyson who last year was full of confidence that his company would prove a much more efficient car manufacturer that the industry’s giants. He told French financial media Les Échos “car manufacturers complain all the time. But there is no problem without a solution”. Apparently he has now realised that the industry’s complexities are not quite as easy to overcome as had appeared to be the case looking from the outside in.
£200 million has already been poured into the ambitious project, building test tracks and on research and development. And while Dyson no longer holds the ambition to develop its own-branded electric vehicles it has said that it remains committed to investing in the technology it was developing for its car. That includes robotics, manufacturing line technologies and solid-state battery technology. Presumably the plan is now to perfect technologies that can be sold to other car manufacturers.
While no specific details on the exact reasons behind the conclusion that the car would not be commercially viable were given there are reports Mr Dyson was put off by the difficulties experienced by other ‘new’ entrants to the automotive market such as Elon Musk’s Tesla. Tesla has struggled to scale its production to the level needed to break into profitability. In retrospect, a direct £1 million investment into the launch of the car, was perhaps never realistic in the context of the size of the competition. Traditional automakers are funding their EV development from billions in sales of traditional petrol and diesel vehicles and also have huge manufacturing experience and existing facilities and supply lines that can be updated.