Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Dyson electric car plans revealed by U.K. government filings

(Read article summary)
View video

Michaela Rehle/Reuters/File

(Read caption) A car is parked at a service station for electric cars powered by solar energy in the village of Wolpertshausen near Schwaebisch Hall, Germany (March 18, 2016).

View photo

Would you buy a car from a company that makes vacuum cleaners?

Dyson, the U.K. company known for its bagless vacuums, could soon try to build an electric car of its own.

About these ads

It's developing an electric car at its headquarters in Wiltshire, England, according to government documents.

These documents disclose, apparently by accident, that the U.K. government is funding this project, according to The Guardian.

"The government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery-electric vehicle at its headquarters," said the National Infrastructure Delivery Plan published last Wednesday.

The unspecified amount of funding is expected to return 174 million pounds ($245 million) of private investment in the region of Dyson's headquarters, and create over 500 jobs, the plan said.

Neither Dyson nor the U.K. government will comment on this statement.

However, last year Dyson CEO Max Conze was asked about the possibility of an electric-car project, and said that "we are ruling nothing out."

He went on to say that "like our friends in Cupertino," meaning Apple, Dyson is "unhealthily obsessive" about "taking apart our products to make them better."

About these ads

Apple is widely rumored to be developing an electric car of its own, and because of its context Conze's comment was viewed by some as an allusion to that.

More substantively, Dyson also purchased solid-state battery maker Sakti3 last year for $90 million.

Sakti3 had been eyeing automotive applications for its technology, which is still under development and may not be ready for commercialization for a few years, even with Dyson's backing.

Solid-state battery cells replace the flammable liquid electrode of lithium-ion cells with a solid material, hence the name.

Sakti3 claims its non-flammable electrode will be safer, and allow for greater energy density.

Dyson already uses batteries in its cordless vacuum cleaners and other products, and may intend to use solid-state batteries in those applications.

But solid-state batteries could also be a major selling point for a Dyson electric car, if they can achieve their maker's performance claims.

Breaking into the car business is not easy, so Dyson will need any advantage it can get if it's serious about this.

This article first appeared at GreenCarReports.