Appliance-Maker Dyson Wants to Build an EV that Doubles Today’s Driving Range

By · October 04, 2017

A sketch related to Dyson's electric car plans

Dyson, the British maker of innovative household appliances, last week announced ambitious plans to build an electric car by 2020. Now, in an interview with Wired, the company’s chief executive Max Conze said the company will build the vehicle from the ground up—without help from an established carmaker. Moreover, Conze said the company will greatly expand an EV’s driving range, perhaps doubling the number of miles an electric car can travel on a single charge. He didn’t specify how that would be accomplished.

While the vehicle’s hardware will be built with in-house engineering, the company might use “off the shelf” software to control the vehicle’s functions, especially its self-driving tasks.

Dyson is not the first company to claim a lack of experience—and willingness to re-invent transportation—as an advantage. Recent EV history includes a long list of rebel start-ups—such as Aptera, Coda, Corbin, Detroit Electric, Fisker, Think, and Zenn (to name a few)—that failed to deliver on big electric car promises.

Dyson has expertise in maximizing the efficiency of electric motors and the use of batteries, but designing, building, and selling a successful electric car remains a highly risky enterprise. The company said it would nonetheless make a multi-billion-dollar bet—spending approximately $2.7 billion to introduce an electric car as soon as about three years. Dyson has already hired about 400 engineers for the project.

Today’s longest range electric cars offer more than 200 miles on a single charge. It’s not clear if increasing the range to between 300 and 400 miles (in about three years) will win over new customers—especially as most major automakers, as well as Chinese start-ups and big ride-sharing companies, will be seeking a similar goal.

“Most of the incumbent advantages in the car industry today become a disadvantage very quickly because you're sitting on infrastructure and know-how for the cars of yesterday, not the cars of tomorrow,” said Conze. “If you know a lot about combustion engines, there is very little transferable knowledge from building combustion engines to building electric engines."

Dyson’s latest digital motors and energy storage systems currently power the company’s Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuum cleaners.

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