Last year, British appliance manufacturer Dyson confirmed that it is investing £2 billion ($2.7 billion USD) to bring an electric vehicle with a solid state battery to market in 2020.
A new report now claims that the company is actually working on 3 electric vehicles and that the first generation may not feature Dyson’s solid state battery technology.
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.
The company later confirmed the plans in an email to employees that they released.
The 2020 timeline would make them the first to commercialize solid state battery technology, but now a new report from Financial Times, which got inside Dyson’s EV program, is casting doubts on that possibility.
“Crucially, Dyson is considering using lithium ion batteries rather than solid state in the first car, according to three people. Although the company has not confirmed a decision, a choice not to use solid state would indicate a scaling back in the technical ambitions for its first vehicle.”
Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common li-ion cells and could have more potential for higher energy density. However, we have yet to see a company capable of producing it at a large-scale and an attractive price point.
Sakti3 made headlines in 2014 when it announced that it had produced a solid-state battery cell with 400 Wh/kg energy density. In comparison, Tesla’s Panasonic cells are believed to be the industry leader by many, with around 250 Wh/kg.
While Dyson might be slowing down its effort to bring the technology to market, it doesn’t change its electric car ambitions.
The report states that they are planning a range of 3 electric vehicles:
“The company is initially planning a range of three vehicles, according to two people. The first car will be used to establish a route to market, a supply chain and a potential customer base. Because of this, the vehicle will have a relatively low production run — in the single-digit thousands, three people said. The second and third vehicles, released later, will aim to be substantially higher volume.”
Dyson is reportedly considering a few manufacturing locations, primarily in the UK, but also in Singapore, Malaysia and China.
I am not sure what to think of Dyson’s EV ambitions yet. Despite those few insights into the program, we have never seen them produce a vehicle, so there’s not really any basis for comparison other than the company’s general product philosophy, which is fairly forward-thinking.
But I think it’s simply such a big market that there’s certainly still room for new entrants.
As for the solid state technology, I would be surprised if it ends up in any electric vehicle by 2020, so Dyson potentially pushing back the rollout was predictable.
Fisker is the only other company planning to release an electric car with solid state batteries by 2020 that we know of. We also have doubts about those plans since they were aiming for commercialization in 2023 just a few months ago.