British appliance manufacturer Dyson has long been rumored to be working on its own electric vehicle. The rumors intensified when the company acquired Michigan-based solid-state battery startup Sakti3 for $90 million and announced plans to build an important $1 billion battery factory to mass produce the next generation battery technology.
Today, CEO James Dyson confirmed the company’s effort to bring an electric car to market.
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In a memo to employees that the company later released, Dyson explains that he has long been concerned by exhaust emission and that his company even developed a filter for diesel vehicles out of his concerns over 20 years ago.
They couldn’t get the automotive industry to use it and the company’s effort in the auto industry ended there.
But over the years, Dyson has developed technologies for its home appliances that the CEO believes could be useful in the development of an electric vehicle.
He wrote in the memo to employees:
“It has remained my ambition to find solutions to the global problem of air pollution. Some years ago, observing that automotive firms were not changing their spots, I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered. vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem. Dyson carried on innovating. The latest digital motors and energy storage systems power the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuum line. We’ve relentlessly innovated in fluid dynamics and HVAC systems to build our fans, heaters, and purifiers.”
Now Dyson believes that all those efforts could be used in an EV.
He continued in the memo:
“At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product. Rather than filtering emission at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source. So I wanted you to hear it directly from me: Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.”
The CEO also confirmed that they have a growing team of 400 people working on the project, which the company is backing with a £2 billion ($2.7 billion USD) investment.
They don’t want to release any more information about the project citing “fierce” competition in the industry.
Therefore, it’s not clear if they plan to bring the car to market using their solid-state battery technology, but if they do on time in 2020, they would likely be the first to do it.
Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common li-ion cells and could have more potential for higher energy density, but we have yet to see a company capable of producing it in large-scale and at an attractive price point.
Sakti3 made the headlines in 2014 when it announced that it had produced a solid-state battery cell with 400 Wh/kg energy density, compared to Tesla’s Panasonic cells believed to be the industry leader with around 250 Wh/kg.
Toyota and Hyundai are also both working on the technology and the 94-year-old inventor of the li-ion battery cell, John Goodenough, claimed a solid-state battery breakthrough last year that could lead to the mass production of solid-state batteries, but as with any supposed “battery breakthrough”, a healthy skepticism is recommended.