Dyson electric car cancelled: declared "not financially viable"

Domestic appliance maker's seven-seat crossover electric car model has been scrapped

Dyson electric car

Dyson has ended development of its planned electric car. In a statement, company founder James Dyson said: "The Dyson Automotive team have developed a fantastic car; they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies. However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply cannot make it commercially viable.

"We have been through a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far. I wanted you to hear directly from me that the Dyson Board has therefore taken the very difficult decision to propose the closure of our automotive project."

Dyson went on to emphasise that "this is not a product failure, or a failure of the team... Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project. We are working to quickly find alternative roles within Dyson for as many of the team as possible and we have sufficient vacancies to absorb most of the people into our Home business."

The statement also says that the company will continue to work on systems developed for the car project, among them "sensing technologies, vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and AI".

Dyson patent drawings

In January of this year, a set of patent drawings for the Dyson electric car gave the first clue as to what the British technology firm's first vehicle would have looked like. The side and front profile diagrams indicated a seven-seat crossover-style vehicle with large wheels.

An e-mail sent to staff by company founder James Dyson, which was seen by our sister title Auto Express, reads: "The patents certainly don’t reveal what our vehicle will really look like, but they provide a glimpse of some of the inventive steps that we are considering.

"They suggest some of the ways in which this vehicle could differ from the status quo and depict a vehicle which has been developed, from the bottom up, with range and efficiency in mind from the outset."

Dyson electric car design

The drawings indicated space left for batteries below the interior, combined with a fairly reclined seating positions, plus a reasonably low roofline and centre of gravity to give the profile of a coupe-SUV.

Documents accompanying the drawings stated: “The ground clearance of the vehicle in the illustrated embodiment is about 300mm, which is comparatively high as compared to saloon or sedan-like vehicles, although the front row of passengers are supported within the vehicle in a more low-down, sedan-like seating position”.

A long wheelbase of around 3.2-3.3 metres was indicated in the patent documents, while other dimensions mentioned in the documents include a height of between 1.6 and 1.8 metres, and an overall length of between 4.7 and 5.1 metres.

For comparison, that's approximately the same height and length as a Range Rover Sport PHEV, but with even more ground clearance. Also of note were the illustrated car's large but narrow wheels, indicated as 24 inches in diameter. According to Dyson, this will help to avoid aquaplaning, give better grip in snowy conditions and reduce aerodynamic drag.

In his message to staff, James Dyson said: "The patents show a car with very large wheels, giving a low rolling resistance and high ground clearance. This makes a vehicle suited to city life and rough terrain, but could also contribute to increased range and efficiency."

However, Dyson also noted that: "It is important to keep this in perspective and remember that we do not always use patents or make products based on patents that we have filed”.

Dyson electric car battery

There was no confirmation on what battery type the Dyson electric car would have used. Previously it had been reported that next-generation solid-state technologies were under consideration, but it's not clear that these would have been ready in time for the car's anticipated launch date of 2021.

Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Dyson electric car project would be led by former head of BMW and Infiniti, Roland Krueger. Krueger, who was previously president of Infiniti and senior vice-president of its parent company Nissan, is working out of Dyson’s factory in Singapore.

Hundreds of people were working on the project, most based at Dyson’s facility in Hullavington, Wiltshire (above). As much as £775 million was expected to be invested in the car in 2019 alone, although that figure was to be spent globally and not exclusively in the UK.