Dyson abandons electric car project

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Dyson

James Dyson is terminating his electric car project. The British entrepreneur announced the news in an all-staff email on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, saying that he and his board of directors decided to stop the effort after unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer. Going forward, Dyson says his company will “concentrate on the formidable task of manufacturing solid-state batteries” as well as other “fundamental” technologies like vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and AI.

“The Dyson automotive team has developed a fantastic car: they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies,” Dyson wrote in the email. “However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”

Dyson was supposed to unveil the electric car in 2020, but last year, the date got pushed back to 2021 when he announced his company would build a manufacturing plant in Singapore. Dyson teased the idea of creating a whole lineup of vehicles carrying his name, and his company was working on developing solid-state batteries for the EV.

Dyson had nearly 600 people working on the electric car project, which was announced in 2017. In his email, Dyson said he and his team are “working to quickly find alternative roles within Dyson for as many of the team as possible and we have sufficient vacancies to absorb most of the people into our Home business.” If Dyson can’t find new roles for employees or they don’t wish to stay with the company, he said the company will “support them fairly and with the respect deserved.”

“This is a challenging time for our colleagues and I appreciate your understanding and sensitivity as we consult with those who are affected,” Dyson wrote. “This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest. Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project.”

Comments

I hadn’t realized that Dyson was even trying, but that shouldn’t surprise anyway.

Vacuum cleaners, blow dryers, and fans are not the same thing as heavy industry.

Tooling costs for any old hum-drum car are typically in the billions.

But was the difficulty in the development of the solid state battery or all of the other car things? Those are 2 very different goals and challenges.

My guess is that they figured electric would be easier to do. Nearly everything they make runs on DC motors, as do EVs (just much larger). I can see a boardroom thinking that’d be a straightforward transition.

Small correction. EVs typically have AC motors. They lose some energy converting from DC (the batteries), but they’re much cheaper to manufacture.

It probably did not help that they kept having key engineers recruited away.

Make an e-Bike?

This seems more in-line with what I would expect to come from Dyson.

Hardware is hard.

Software is soft.

Vaporware is vapor.

Firmware is Firm

Werewolf are wolves.

Werewolf are were, come on

Arewolf were or are they?

spyware is spy

Dishware is Dish

Simply dig a little further beyond click-baity headlines and into raw science and economics, a clear conclusion will emerge that building, planning, designing AND especially manufacturing EVs = Mt. Everest of engineering. There are reasons ICE makers kept shelving such projects for decades. Media should avoid sensational xxx-killer hypothesis.

Those who succeeded will have WAY easier time overcoming issues like logistics, than those who only just begins to solve core obstacles. My two cents. I’m biased.

Indeed, building cars – of any description – at scale is a massively more difficult challenge than simply engineering a good electric car. Even a very good electric car.

Even Tesla couldn’t make that business profitable, yet. (And before someone points to Tesla’s few profitable quarters, I say look more closely. The bulk of those profits were from reselling their carbon credit as a car manufacturer.)

Tesla also reinvests earning into growth.

I’ve always thought Dyson would do really well in improving the efficiency of combustible engines. They have all of the knowledge and know-how behind airflow, vacuums, etc. Design a super efficient turbo charger or something. That would be pretty cool.

I think the issue is motivation. Just listened to the biography on Elon Musk. Pretty amazingly driven man. He was willing to (and DID) put ALL of his $200 Million into his startups (SpaceX and Tesla), even when they were both on the verge of bankruptcy. Elon is doing this because he is passionate about it to excess.

Sir James, on the other hand, is a Billionaire. He’s not motivated to put all of his money into this. Instead he is relying on investors who I can’t blame are not motivated to put their money into something that Sir James won’t go all in on.

It seems more likely than making an EV… But it still doesn’t seem like a great direction for them to move in. ICE engines are a pretty mature field, and there are a lot of people involved in constantly improving them. There’s no real assurance that Dyson could actually make much improvement in that field, and even if they did, they’d have to market it and partner up with a car manufacturer who even wanted their improved design, which starts to involve so much more like the massive logistics and varying regulations…. I just don’t see it being a sensible direction for them to go in.

Hahaha, Dyson is like Apple in many ways. Cool design, some cool ideas, but a lot of the heavy lifting is also outsourced. Some of their vacuums have Panasonic motors I recall!

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