Herbert Hoover promised Americans a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, but another man with a vacuum-associated name, James Dyson, wants to put electric cars in every parking spot.
Dyson, maker of strangely desirable vacuum cleaners and unsettlingly futuristic fans shaped like an elongated oval, wants to build you a car. Of course, we told you this last year, after the British government let slip that it was “funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.”
The secretive UK-based company now claims you’ll see its new car in just three years.
Anyone who’s ever handled a bagless, cordless Dyson vacuum knows the company isn’t resting on its technological laurels. Available in funky colors and powered by a detachable lithium-ion battery, the suction units come as close as a vacuum cleaner can to being described as “sexy.” You’ll want to set aside part of your Saturday to use it, possibly with music blaring.
But Dyson doesn’t want to waste years of electric motor and battery development solely on helping you suck up those chips from under the couch. Flush with vacuum and fan-generated cash (as well as the aforementioned government green), the company reportedly has 400 staff members working on an electric vehicle at its UK headquarters.
According to the Financial Times (subscription required), Dyson’s plan carries a price tag of £2 billion ($2.68B) — one billion going towards the development of the battery, another billion for design and initial construction. (Dyson has help in the energy storage area — it bought an American battery maker for $90 million in 2015.)
Founder James Dyson anticipates a line of EV models, as well as future profitability. Recognizing that it faces a “crowded market,” Dyson nonetheless expects the EV arm to become the dominant area of the company.
And a crowded market it will be. The company patriarch told the BBC that the first Dyson car, scheduled for a 2020 debut, won’t come cheap. While the exact price range — as well as the driving range — remains a carefully guarded secret, Dyson admits it is going after the premium market. That leaves the company facing Tesla’s upper echelon models, as well as promised Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Porsche EVs that should exist by 2020. Still, it’s not the worst plan. Not only are wealthy buyers more likely to consider an EV, it’s also easier to generate a profit off big-ticket electric luxo barges.
Dyson claims development staff will move to a nearby abandoned RAF airbase to continue work on the car in February. What form will the first Dyson model take? That’s another for-your-eyes-only detail. The Vacuum King does admit it will appear “radical and different.”