Electric cars are all the rage now, with manufacturers from Ford and Citroen to BMW and Tesla getting in on the action. What we didn't expect was a vacuum vendor to make their mark.
British firm Dyson, best known for its innovative bag-free vacuum cleaners, last year committed to a £2 billion project to develop and build electric cars, completely from scratch.
Company founder James Dyson, whose academic background was in art and design before he entered engineering, admitted to The Financial Times that "A car's a huge challenge," but added that the firm has been "investing heavily in new battery technology, solid state battery technology."
Although Dyson announced that it planned to enter the EV market last year, the FT now reports that the company has expanded its ambitions. It will produce three different models over the next decade.
The first car, like Tesla's Model S, will be a high-end model sold in relatively small numbers - perhaps fewer than 10,000. It will mainly be used to establish a route to market, supply chain and customer base.
Sources speaking to the FT said that this first vehicle may not feature the solid-state battery that Dyson will use in subsequent models.
Two separate people said that two more cars will follow the high-end model, with ‘substantially higher' volumes.
Last year, Dyson said that the new car would look "quite different" to any other EV on the market. The company is known for its work with lightweight materials like plastics - which supercars have used in the past. A lighter chassis would also mean greater battery efficiency.
Dyson intends to release its first car by 2021 - well ahead of other manufacturers who have been working with solid-state technology. Only Toyota has so far provided a timeline for the release of a car with a solid-state battery, in 2025.
It is possible that Dyson scrapped its use of the advanced battery hardware in order to bring its car to market faster, Jefferies analyst Philippe Houchois told the FT.
The major question now is where the factory will be located. Possible locations in the UK include Wiltshire and Wales, although the largest EV market for the company is expected to be China - so the cars could be produced in the Far East. Dyson currently has manufacturing bases in Singapore and Malaysia.
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