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Who killed the electric car… from Dyson?

When you think of Dyson, you probably think of things like vacuums and fans, not electric cars.  Surprisingly enough, the British technology company actually has been working on an electric vehicle since 2016.  But do not get too excited if you are only now finding this out– Dyson just announced that it is scrapping its plans for an electric car.

The Dyson Electric Car

Dyson’s electric car project sort of came out of the blue when it was first announced.  Hearing that a vacuum company was building futuristic cars was certainly not something one encounters every day.  Not only were they building an electric car, but a cutting edge one at that: a car with solid-state battery technology, advanced materials, novel engine technology, and a creative design.  All of this would happen with about $2.5 billion in investments.

In order to head their project, Dyson poached executives from companies such as Aston Martin, Tesla, and Infiniti.  They also purchased Sakti3, a Michigan-based solid-state battery company, and announced plans to build a $1 billion battery factory, a huge test-track facility, and a large office building for Dyson Automotive employees.  In addition, Dyson announced plans to produce its vehicles in Singapore. 

Earlier this year we learned that Dyson intended to produce a range of 3 electric vehicles from the start, with the first rolling out of production in 2021.

The Best-Laid Plans…

So what happened? 

“The Dyson automotive team has developed a fantastic car: they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies,” said Dyson CEO James Dyson in an email announcing the project’s closure today. “However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”

The company tried to find a buyer in order to salvage what they could, but no one stepped up, so Dyson decided to take a loss.

The exact reasons behind the decision to end the project are scarce at the moment, but it likely has to do with the expense of creating and manufacturing an electric car.  Even though the electric car market continues to grow, time and time again we are faced with the reality that electric cars are much more expensive to manufacture than conventional cars, leading to scarce profits.  Even Tesla, with its huge investor base and deep pockets, has burnt through obscene amounts of cash and continues to ask for more.  Dyson likely cannot afford to keep up.

But the project has not been a complete waste of time and money for Dyson.  While it will not be presenting an electric car to the world, it will take what it has learned in developing related technologies and continue to focus on them. 

“We will also concentrate on the formidable task of manufacturing solid-state batteries and other fundamental technologies which we have identified: sensing technologies, vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and AI offer us significant opportunities which we must grab with both hands,” Dyson said.

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