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Dyson plans to bring a premium electric car to market by 2020

Roadshow logo Roadshow 2/14/2018 Kyle Hyatt
James Dyson posing for the camera: Designer James Dyson© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Designer James Dyson

Late last year, James Dyson of Dyson vacuum cleaner and overpriced fan fame announced that his company would be investing £2 billion to develop an electric car by 2020 and, hopefully, it doesn't suck.

Really though, (terrible) vacuum jokes aside, Dyson on Wednesday doled out a few more details including a production target date and some very general technical specs. 

Typically, we'd greet this kind of news with a healthy eye roll of skepticism, but the fact is that Dyson is as rich as Croesus (from ancient Greece, very rich) and loves inventing things. Additionally, the word round the campfire is that he already has 400 people working on the project at the Dyson facility in Malmesbury, England.

Research

Dyson has said that its first electric car won't be cheap and won't be a sports car. This, in our minds, puts it in direct competition with Tesla's Model S and Model X. The car was initially set to feature solid-state batteries, technology in which Dyson has been investing heavily lately -- specifically with its acquisition of Sakti3, a solid-state battery startup, for $105 million. However, Ann Marie Sastry, the former head of Sakti3 who came to work for Dyson after the acquisition, has departed the company rather suddenly, which may slow down the development schedule for solid-state batteries.

To help put solid-state battery technology in perspective, Toyota is alone in having committed to bringing the technology to market inside of a decade. Porsche has talked about its investment in the technology but hasn't made any claims as to when it might be available in its vehicles. If Dyson can bring this technology to market first, it will have a huge leg up on more established competitors thanks to solid-state batteries' higher energy density and quicker recharge times versus standard wet cells.

a close up of an engine: James Dyson Launches The Ball© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. James Dyson Launches The Ball

Based on statements that Dyson made to Reuters, it seems unlikely that the car would be built in the UK.

"Wherever we make the battery, we'll make the car; that's logical," he said. "So we want to be near our suppliers; we want to be in a place that welcomes us and is friendly to us, and where it is logistically most sensible. And we see a very large market for this car in the Far East."

Based on what we know so far, Dyson's plan seems not unlike Tesla's in that it will start with an exclusive and expensive vehicle, using that to develop and possibly fund a second more affordable and advanced car, and so on. Given Tesla's production troubles with its hotly anticipated Model 3, the EV giant is vulnerable in a way that it hasn't been previously.

Hopefully, Dyson gets his car developed and brought to market. Competition improves the breed, and the world of EVs has benefited from increased competition already. Also, the potential to see AvE tear a Dyson car apart on YouTube is almost too exciting.

This was originally published on Roadshow.


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