British vacuum-cleaner maker Dyson, whose TV ads boasted that its product was the only one that didn’t lose suction, is hoping it can bring that swagger to the auto industry in announcing it plans to build an electric vehicle.
Founder and chief engineer James Dyson told employees Tuesday in England that the company would invest about $2.7 billion to build an electric vehicle by 2020. Dyson said half the money would invested in the vehicle project and the other half in battery technology.
Dyson believes its increasing expertise in advanced batteries will give it an advantage in this new venture as it seeks to challenge industry pioneer Tesla. Dyson bought battery company Sakti3 in 2015 to use its solid-state lithium-ion technology to boost battery life on its cordless vacuums,
The Dyson electric-car initiative follows by two months the announcement by the British government that it plans to ban the sale of all diesel and gasoline-powered cars by 2040.
Dyson did not disclose details on what the car will look like, saying it would be a major departure from existing cars. He said the Dyson vehicle will not be self-driving.
Dyson has been hiring researchers specializing in autonomous systems and machine learning. Bloomberg News reported that Dyson recruited David Wyer, its second Aston Martin Lagonda executive in a year, making it the latest hire to fuel speculation that the company is building an electric vehicle. Dyson also hired Andrew Watson, former director at Symantec, in November as its head of machine learning.
Dyson joins an ever-expanding field of companies looking grab a share of the electric vehicle future. Earlier this week, Daimler, the Germany-based parent of Mercedes-Benz, said it will invest $1 billion in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assembly plant to produce the company’s EQ-branded electric sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
Silicon Valley electric-car startups include Faraday Future and Lucid Motors.