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Car and Driver: Dyson—Yes, the Vacuum-Cleaner Company—Is Planning an Electric Car


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James Dyson - 2007Consumer-electronics maker Dyson might have a no-comment policy on the swirling rumors of its electric-car project, but its plans have been confirmed by the most unlikely of sources: The U.K.-based company’s intention to build a Hoover Mover has been leaked to the world by none other than the British government.


But after investing millions in taxpayer funds into the program, the British government probably thinks it has a right to tell people about the Dyson vehicle. Indeed, the engineering company’s plans to join Tesla as a new, non-traditional automotive brand in the electric-vehicle segment were outlined in the British government’s National Infrastructure Development Plan, which was published this week.


“The government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery-electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire,” the documents revealed. “This will secure £174m [about $250 million at today's exchange rate] of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering,” it insisted.


Dyson has recently been noncommittal about adding cars to its line up of bagless vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, and bladeless fans, among other products, with its CEO, Max Conze, last year admitting only, “We are ruling nothing out.” The firm has been patenting automotive ideas for at least five years, indicating any entry into the electric-car field would not be an impulsive one. Dyson has regularly been rumored to be developing an electric car, and it often assigns headhunters to scour car companies and Formula 1 teams for engineering and aerodynamic talent.


It also has a long track record of turning inventions into profitable consumer products, with its 68-year-old founder Sir James Dyson breaking through by designing a fast cargo ship in 1970, which is still on sale today, then designing the Ballbarrow. Based in Wiltshire, England, the company also has stated it plans a £1-billion investment in battery technology (roughly $1.45 billion) over the next five years, and last year it bought Sakti3, a solid-state battery maker and developer—that just so happens to be Car and Driver‘s next-door neighbor in Ann Arbor. We’ll let you know if we see any prototypes turn up in the parking lot.


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