Dyson Reveals Electric Vehicle Plans

The Dyson vacuum cleaners revolutionised the dusty duty of cleaning our homes and offices and over night (our time) the founder of the company and inventor of the dual cyclone bagless vacuum, James Dyson, announced in a company-wide email that they are working on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.

The seed of the famed tinkerer's idea for a solution to the sooty emissions of diesel engines dates back to 1990, but the industry at the time had little appetite for curbing emissions. The tinkering continued, and while the company went on to launch series of new products, the problem of diesel engine emissions became a project to match the power of a diesel engine in an emission-free electric vehicle.

See innovation in action is always exciting, and we have reproduced the email in full below:

"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. 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.

"By 1993 we had developed several working prototypes and showed an early iteration to British television programme Blue Peter. The team went on to develop a much more sophisticated technology. 

"To our chagrin, nobody at the time was interested in employing our diesel exhaust capture system and we stopped the project. The industry said that ‘disposing’ of the collected soot was too much of a problem! Better to breathe it in?

"In the period since, governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants. Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.

 

"Throughout, it has remained my ambition to find a solution to the global problem of air pollution. Some years ago, observing that automotive firms were not changing their spots, I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem. Dyson carried on innovating. The latest digital motors and energy storage systems power the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuum line. We’ve relentlessly innovated in fluid dynamics and HVAC systems to build our fans, heaters and purifiers.

"At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product. Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source. So I wanted you to hear it directly from me: Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020. 

"We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.

"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.

"In London, nearly 9,500 people die early each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London. The World Health Organisation reports “in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure”. It is our obligation to offer a solution to the world’s largest single environmental risk. I look forward to showing you all what I hope will be something quite unique and better, in due course!"

The email, evidently written to be shared with the world, was simply signed 'James'.

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