This is the electric car that Dyson nearly made. Very nearly. Britain’s richest man Sir James Dyson employed 650 people at his Wiltshire base to design, engineer and build prototypes, and had identified a factory site in Singapore.
But then it stopped. Still, it’s fascinating to see what might have been. Dyson has exclusively shared with Top Gear this virtual video.
The car had a 600-mile projected range, thanks to a huge battery – 800kg and about 150kWh. Despite weighing 2.6 tonnes overall, the two motors would have got it to 62mph in less than five seconds.
It was to have been as big as a long-wheelbase Range Rover, and far roomier inside, thanks to three rows of seats and clap-hands doors.
It looks smaller than that in the video, because the wheels are to scale – they’re a huge 24 inches. As with the BMW i3 or indeed the new Renault Espace, Dyson realised that big wheels with narrow tyres are good for comfort and low rolling resistance.
The interior has a very clean, uncluttered dash, with a HUD and most controls on the steering wheel. Sir James believes big dash touchscreens are distracting. The seats, with radically shaped padding, allow good support and air circulation.
Initially, the heavy battery was to have been a conventional lithium ion type. The company was working on a much lighter solid-state battery, which would have charged more quickly because its lower resistance generates less heat. But as other car makers have found, it’s a technology that’s not yet ready for primetime. Still, Dyson hopes to put it into its appliances eventually.
The car was to have been pretty much all their own work. From making innovative rechargeable vacuum cleaners, fan heaters and dryers, Dyson has longstanding expertise in aerodynamics, motors and batteries. That was to have been reflected not just in the car’s running gear but even the climate control.
To do suspension and the aluminium body, its automotive team was led by ex-Aston Martin head of development Ian Minards.
It cost £500 million to get that far. But Sir James stopped the programme in October 2019 because he didn’t want it to make him less rich.
He came into the problem that the car industry knows well. It’s a very high-risk, low-margin business – far more so than the electrical appliances the firm has always done so far. Tesla doesn’t make consistent profit, and some other conventional carmakers almost certainly subsidise their EVs from other models.