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Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

Vacuum-maker to spend £2bn on 'radical battery electric vehicle' due on the road in 2020

By Simon Sharwood, 27 Sep 2017

Vacuum-cleaner maker Dyson has announced its intention to build a “battery electric vehicle.”

Founder James Dyson says he's doing it to reduce pollution and therefore the many deaths that can be linked to car emissions' effects on air quality.

“In 1988 I read a paper by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, linking the exhaust from diesel engines to premature death in laboratory mice and rats,” he wrote in a treatise posted to Twitter. “In March 1990 a team at Dyson began work on a cyclonic filter that could be fitted on a vehicle’s exhaust system to trap particulates.”

That work progressed well but auto-makers wouldn't buy it on grounds that it would have created a need to dispose of soot.

Dyson the man's Tweet says he remained interested in finding “a solution to the global problem of air pollution”, decided that car companies would never do it and therefore “committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem.”

Dyson the company has also developed new hair dryers and vacuums, complete with technology that Dyson the man says feels can contribute to an electric car. “We finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product,” he wrote. “Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source.”

And then the payoff:

“I wanted you to hear it directly from me: Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.”

At a launch event for the vehicle, Dyson the man described the design as “radical” but offered no detail.

The company has put over 400 people to work on the project, some from Dyson, the company, and some “talented individuals from the automotive industry.”

Dyson the man said he's “committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.”

And that, for now, is all there is to know because Dyson the man says “The project will grow quickly from here but at this stage we will not release any information. Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential.”

It's therefore hard to know if the future Dyson-mobile will blow the competition away, or use more conventional means of propulsion.

Also unexplained is how Dyson thinks he can solve the pollution problem at the source given that a great deal of electricity is generated in coal-fired plants that also emit pollution. Those plants are usually far away from big cities where there are lots of lungs to be offended by the fumes, but still make lots of nasty gases. ®

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