The internet is filled with rumors this week that suggest British entrepreneur James Dyson may be preparing to launch an electric car company to compete with Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes, Ford, Jaguar, and Rolls Royce, not to mention start-ups like Faraday Future, NextEV, Atieva, Apple, Google, 2050 Motors, and Edison Destiny.
The news is contained in a report prepared by England’s Infrastructure and Projects Administration entitled National Infrastructure
Delivery Plan 2016–2021. The report says the British government is prepared to allocate $250 million to Dyson to develop “a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.” According to The Guardian, the government is also providing another $21,000,000 to “support research and development for battery technology at their site in Malmesbury.” Skeptics may scoff that $21,000,000 is a drop in the bucket, considering that laboratories, universities, and corporations around the world are spending billions each year for precisely the same purpose.
The Guardian article goes on to say, “Dyson recently reported profits up 20% in 2015, driven by strong growth in China, and said it plans to invest £1bn in battery technology over the next five years. Last October, Dyson bought solid-state battery company, Sakti3, for $90m, which founder Sir James Dyson said had ‘developed a breakthrough in battery technology’.”
Sakti3, you may recall, claims to have invented a solid state lithium ion battery that has double the power density of convention batteries. Last year at the White House, Sakti3 CEO Ann Marie Sastry told President Obama the batteries would first go into household appliances and consumer electronics. After that, she said, “the sky’s the limit,” according to a report in Quartz. The magazine goes on to say, “Sastry has yet to publicly release a sample or disclose detailed data on a commercial battery of any size, let alone one capable of powering an electric car—or even a vacuum cleaner.”
The Guardian says “Dyson, 68, has a long history of inventions. He designed the Rotork Sea Truck, a fast cargo boat in 1970, which has been used by the military and is still sold today. In 1974, he designed the Ballbarrow, a barrow with a ball replacing the wheel, having been frustrated by wheelbarrows getting stuck in mud on a building site.
“His breakthrough was the bagless vacuum cleaner, which was inspired by air cyclones used in sawmills to suck up sawdust. Since then, he has created bladeless fans and the Airblade hand dryer. Many of Dyson’s devices use small, light and efficient electric motors developed over 10 years by his company, which may find application in developing a new electric car.”
Two years ago, when Formula One began a new era featuring advanced turbo-hybrid engines, 4 time world champion Sebastien Vettel sniffed that driving the new cars was “like driving a vacuum cleaner.” If Dyson is succesful, the electric cars of the future may be more closely related to vacuum cleaners than Vettel could have possibly imagined.
Photo Credit: Samuel M. Lvingston, some rights reserved