Dyson, the innovative UK electrical appliance manufacturer, recently revealed that it is developing a “radically different” electric car that will go on sale in 2020.
The company is investing £2 billion in it and has a development staff of more than 400. Details of the nature of the car itself are scant, though. Sir James Dyson wrote in an email to employees: “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.”
Despite this, it’s possible to hazard some idea of what a Dyson electric car might consist of, not least because Dyson himself has said: “There’s no point doing something that looks like everyone else’s. It is not a sports car and not a very cheap car.” On the basis of these not-insubstantial clues and others, Autocar has developed a projection of what the Dyson EV could look like and what features it might contain.
Dyson car - how we think it will shape up
Battery and charging technology
Removable cassette-style solid-state battery pack of various capacities and prices, mounted within double-skinned front bulkhead. Battery pack removable using engine hoist from covered slot forward of windscreen. Battery pack is structural and locks into bulkhead to provide substantial additional torsional strength.
Solid-state battery pack developed by Dyson subsidiary Sakti3. Pack is lighter and more energy dense than lithium ion packs and needs little cooling, further reducing weight and the need for control systems. Pack offered with two different ranges, to suit short and long-distance users, and to offer a lower base price.
Solar roof panel. Solar panels in semi-horizontal rear wheelarches and bonnet, too. Solar panels used to drive HVAC when car is stationary and remotely programmed to warm/cool before usage
Drivetrain and ride
Two Dyson-developed high-power electric motors drive front wheels and double as generator. Smaller motor/ generator for rear wheels to increase power regeneration and provide part-time four- wheel drive.
High-profile tyres for improved ride. Tyres self-coloured in Dyson grey.
Narrow, lightweight wheels reduce weight, inertia, road noise and cost of replacement and improve turning circle.
Exterior and bodywork
Dyson Airblade windscreen clearing system. Heated screen cleared by 400mph air jets with water-injected wash function. Similar system used for rear window.
Composite, self-coloured, non-structural, exterior panels. Skin panels attached to inner frames using Velcro.
Vehicle is lightweight, all-purpose family car of clean, spare and functional design, but not sparse or utility.
Premium finish underlines premium pricing that also provides value through intelligent design.
Car is 4.1m long, 1.75m wide and 1.5m tall.
Five-door with coach rear doors. Completely flat floor.
Overall design shaped by ‘form follows function’ mantra, as with all Dyson products.
Lightweight composite moulded core structure. Bolt-on aluminium front subframe to carry motor, inverter and suspension. Rear suspension subframe mounted to reduce road noise, as per front.
Inside the Dyson EV
The cabin tapers towards the rear for improved aero and to create semi-horizontal rear wheel arches. Exterior skin and under-floor development are heavily influenced by Dyson’s air manipulation intelligence.
Fixed-position front seats feature composite frames whose outer structure doubles as a lower B-pillar for side-impact protection and to provide latching for coach doors and forward upper seatbelt mountings. Seat cushions are air-pump-adjustable bladders beneath cloth or leather upholstery. Conventional, lightweight rear seats have a 60/40 split folding facility.
There are electrically adjustable pedals and a four-way adjustable steering column. The heating and ventilation system is developed from Dyson Airblade technologies. The air conditioning draws low current and an air purifier is optional.
A compact dashboard is enabled by a space-efficient HVAC system and a Tesla-style central tablet display features. Key instrument readings, navigation and warnings are provided by a head-up display.
Startups show a hard road ahead
Apple - Apple abandoned its electric car — Project Titan — despite investing heavily and having the resource to do so, and that could be an ominous sign for Dyson. The company is now concentrating solely on autonomous car technologies.
Google - Google’s bizarre pod-like autonomous vehicles are a familiar online sight, but its Waymo automobile division now looks likely to share Google’s autonomous technology with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles rather than developing its own vehicles.
Faraday Future - Chinese-backed California-based Faraday Future showed its car — in an embarrassing, malfunctioning manner — at this year’s CES expo, announced a Nevada factory and then unannounced it following financial difficulties that could well sink the company.