Dyson Admits The Obvious

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James Dyson, the British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, has canceled an electric vehicle project because the plan was not commercially viable.

“The Dyson Automotive team has developed a fantastic car; they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies,” Dyson said in an email to staff. “However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”

The company had tried to find a buyer for the project but had not succeeded, he said.

Dyson aimed to bring three electric vehicles to market, with the first model due by 2021, building on its expertise in batteries and electric motors to develop EVs. He aimed to disrupt the auto industry in the same way that his vacuum cleaners caused a revolution in the domestic appliance market.

Some 500 engineers had been working on the project, mostly based at its site in Malmesbury and Hullavington in southwest England.

Dyson said the company was working to find alternative roles for as many of them as possible within other areas of its business, which makes air purifiers, fans and hair dryers as well as cleaners.

In January Dyson recruited former BMW and Infiniti executive Roland Krueger to head its electric-car business.

What’s interesting about all this – beyond the admission of commercial unviability – is that Dyson did really well with battery-powered vacuum cleaners.

Batteries work well in things that are small and light – like vacuum cleaners and cordless drills. But they work terribly – and expensively – in things like cars, which are very heavy and so use exponentially more power.

Vacuum  cleaners are cordless drills are also usually used intermittently, so the recharge issue isn’t usually an issue. And most drills and small battery powered tools come with an extra battery that can be kept on the charger and popped in easily to replace the one that needs to be recharged.

That isn’t possible – feasible – with electric cars because of the cost of batteries (just one costs many thousands of dollars) and also because it’s not easy to just pop in a new one – and never will be.

Some have floated the idea of “quick change” battery pack replacement but try to imagine the physical infrastructure that would be needed to remove/replace several hundred pounds of EV battery pack in say 5 minutes or so – and what it would cost to build that infrastructure. And maintain it. And then deal wit the inevitable issue of people trying to pawn off their ruined/damaged battery packs for a fresh/undamaged one.

It’s not commercially viable. 

Like EVs, themselves.

. . .

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  1. Seems rather fitting that Dyson would even consider the EV market. After all, he is pretty good at developing products that suck.

  2. Don’t know why they don’t try to bring down the CNG vehicle price. Clean burn if not as good mileage.

    I get an e from Elio every week. It’s become excruciating. I don’t think it’ll ever hit the road.

    Can you imagine being on one of those electrified roadways when the big rig hauling fuel turns over?

    And speaking of hauling fuel, I got in on a cleanup for an ethanol spill. Don’t really know why they cleaned it up. Doesn’t seem like it would be bad for the water by the time it got that deep but then that’s the EPA for you. That stuff had soaked up so much water it was like hauling greasy mud and dumped about the same way. I had a Load King trailer and their doors flip up the side almost vertically. But that mud has a hydraulic stick to it. I worked all afternoon to get it out of that trailer. When I finally did, I was stuck in it at which point I had to be pushed out by a dozer. That was no problem since I was at a huge dump. The smell while I worked on it was simply wonderful. Than I got to go get a trailer tire replaced that had blown and taken the mudflap and mount with it Long day for one load.

  3. The only way I can imagine EVs working is to have a wireless power system that is integrated into the roadways that charges as you drive. Similar to the wireless phone chargers. The technology exists, the infrastructure doesn’t, yet. This would be viable, but would take a massive reworking of the roadways. Heavily tax EV owners to pay for usage/maintenance. Wouldn’t impede ICEs, and everyone could choose what is right for them. Trouble is, not enough people actually want to drive electric drills around to make it worth doing.

      • I dig, still plug in at home, but it could increase range and make these gawd awful EVs a tad more practical. I realise it would come at huge initial cost.

    • Well if they could have an ‘industry standard’ automotive battery ( like AA, AAA, D, etc ) that is Hot swappable at your local recharge station were it is swapped out for fully charged for a fee ( like a propane tank ) Could even have 3 tier with charge / mileage rating and even have mulitple installed on higher end vehicles for longer range! This would make them practical IMO

      • Tesla demonstrated battery swaps, but they never rolled it out. There are two problems I could see with it. One, to put the machinery in would be expensive; they experimented with a machine they used to tighten the battery pack’s bolts in the factory. It would also have to be installed underground, much like the pit at a Jiffy Lube is underground.

        Then there’s the issue of battery packs. Some cars’ battery packs would be newer and better than others. How do they charge for them? What kind of credits would you give if the customer were swapping out a newer battery with an older one that’s charged and ready to go?

        That said, Tesla did their battery swaps quickly. In fact, they swapped the packs out of TWO Model S cars in less time than it took to fuel an Audi A7! Swapping packs can be done, because Tesla demonstrated it. That said, the machine required would be expensive for purchase, and installation would be expensive too. Then, how do you charge or give credits for packs that aren’t equal in age or charging capacity? Hence, Tesla never rolled out a pack swap program. Still, they successfully demonstrated it.

        • They demonstrated it solely to get the trendy buyer’s foot in the door. It was obviously a gimmick from the moment that they released the video. The released the video with deceitful intent as they already knew at the point of release that it would never be commercially viable. At that point, why not just fake the video? That’s what they should have done. Would’ve been much cheaper and had the same outcome.

          • Hi Mark,

            The EV thing is another bubble – but a more dangerous one because it won’t just pop. Unlike say the dot com bubble, the government is forcing people to buy EVs, either in whole or in part (via subsidies) and aggressively increasing the regulatory pressure that is forcing them into circulation.

            This isn’t my “anti” EV bias; I admit I don’t like EVs, but that is beside the point as regards the facts about EVs. The economic facts alone make this whole thing a demented farce. People are somehow going to willingly pay 30-50 percent more for a car? Really? How, exactly? Most Americans can’t come up with $1,000 in cash money for an unexpected emergency but they are going to swallow a 30-50 percent increase in the cost of their next car? That is what we are looking at. That is a conservative evaluation, too.

            The Nissan Leaf I just reviewed is the least expensive EV on the market and it has a base price twice as high as the price of an otherwise similar – and functionally superior – economy car like Nissan’s own Versa Note.

            It is not just insane – it is unsupportable. Where are people supposed to get the money? The guy who can just barely afford a $15k Versa Note cannot afford a $30k Leaf. It doesn’t matter how “green” EVs are – assuming they are, which is whole ‘nother thing – if people can’t afford them.

            And most people can’t. Period.

            They are by definition indulgences for the affluent – and the affluent represent a tiny slice of the new car market. Yet the entire market is supposed to be “electrified”…

            It’s is no different than decreeing everyone will eat lobster and steak dinners five days a week. Only worse, because at least steak and lobster are better than meatloaf or mac and cheese while EVs are not better than IC cars . . . assuming you value being to travel hundreds of miles at the drop of a hat and refuel in minutes rather than hours. Etc.

              • Amen, Eight!

                Musk is annoying on so many levels. One of them is that he is a typical “city boy” who thinks he’s so got-damned smart and we’re all yokels. But I bet you Elon has next to nil practical knowledge about… anything.

                • eric, he’s the kind of guy I’d love to have to be with me on a day to day basis.

                  I’ll give you an example of what an AR is good for. Buck(my former pitty)and I were walking through tall grass with a hard wind blowing. We stumbled into a 100 or more grown hogs we couldn’t see and they couldn’t hear us. Next thing I know I hear something behind me, It was Buck hanging on a sow’s ear while shes only feet behind me intent on eating me(she had a litter). The only thing I had time to do was use the handgrip and whip the gun up while flipping the safety up and shooting her nearly point blank. Buck was never comfortable being that close to a gun again since I only missed him by inches but he did save my life. I’d like to see Eloi in that situation.

                  I’d like to see him walk up on a rattler inside the door of the barn. A year following me and he’d be ready for the rubber room.

                  • Hogs are devilish critters, yep. They scare me more than cottonmouths, at least those don’t try to sneak up on you.

                    I’d like to give Elon an iron case 4-speed manual, a car with engine in it up on front wheel ramps, and tell him “stick ‘er in, sport!”. Many of us could (and have) made that work, and that’s exactly the sort of combination of manly grunt and clever spatial reasoning he probably could never exhibit. That’s why I have very little respect for the “accomplishments” of the Elon credentialed class.

                    • Started raising hogs when I was 10. I had pens with a solid part and not much higher to the roof than a hog’s back. This old sow had a litter and I saw something on a piglet I thought needed attention.

                      I got under there and she was chilly enough till I picked up that pig and it squealed. Somebody forgot to tell it pigs don’t squeal when you pick them up by the tail. I left my shirt in that pen. Got in that evening and my mother asked me why I wasn’t wearing a shirt and what was that on my back. I called it a close call.

                      I knew an old many who had a heart attack in his hog pen. They didn’t need a casket….or anything else.

  4. Obviously he’s just not as smart as Elon…

    I wonder how much British taxpayer money he burned though to reach this conclusion?

    • If they went through all the trouble of hiring an overpaid BMW exec, (BMW hasn’t made a decent/non gimped car since about 2007 in my opinion) I’m guessing they burned through taxpayer money and their corporate bank account. Sounds like they were pretty determined to get in on the EV “action”. I bet the only reason they pulled out was because their business model must have required a commercially viable scenario regardless of taxpayer monies– with an eventual hard brexit looming around the corner.

    • I will give Dyson one thing to his credit, though…

      “Dyson said the company was working to find alternative roles for as many of them as possible within other areas of its business”

      This is a sign of a good leader, not abandoning folks you have hired until there is absolutely no other alternative. That, and he’s made a go of an engineering principle (cyclonic separation of dirt from an airstream) in a form his customers will buy.

      So, with the vacuum cleaner part of the business at least, he gets my respect. Elon does not even have that to back him up. SpaceX? Yeah, if you like working your engineering staff to death as a business model, great.

      If he got money from the Brit government though…big black mark.


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