back to article Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

Vacuum-cleaner maker Dyson has announced its intention to build a “battery electric vehicle.” Founder James Dyson says he's doing it to reduce pollution and therefore the many deaths that can be linked to car emissions' effects on air quality. “In 1988 I read a paper by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and …

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The date seems very optimistic

Given that neither Dyson nor Dyson have any expertise or even any public experience of any of the components or regulatory requirements of an EV.

I wonder who they're buying.

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Joke

Re: The date seems very optimistic

Not necessarily. Here's the fully functional prototype.

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

Given that neither Dyson nor Dyson have any expertise or even any public experience of any of the components or regulatory requirements of an EV.

What, like Tesla a few short years back? And I'd not expect Dyson to build them - plenty of competent contract car builders around, or spare capacity at major makers.

There are a few surplus car plants they could buy, lock stock and barrel, but I don't think that would be the plan. Good luck to him.

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Well, electric cars are much simpler...

... and Dyson already has experience with many of the remaining hard parts. They know to design 3-dimensional parts, they know about fluid dynamics, they know about electric motors and batteries.

So my guess is that they'll just have a motor per wheel connected to some dampers. I mean there are student competitions for building cars, it can't be _that_ hard.

Also Dyson is to big to have to worry about regulatory issues.

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Facepalm

Re: The date seems very optimistic

You can easily buy expertise in these areas, it's not as if he personally needs to read up on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well, electric cars are much simpler...

"Well, electric cars are much simpler."

Have you ever seen the complexity of a Dyson washing machine / clothes shredding deivce?

Lets hope his car is more like the DC02 cleaner than his washing machines, fans and hand driers. Whilst his hand dryer encouraged a step change in performance in the industry, I find that other manufacturer's driers get your hands dry faster.

For the record, I can state right now that I won't be able to afford his electric car. He's going to be going head to head with Tesla, not with the Nissan Leaf or the Renault Zoe.

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

You can easily buy expertise in these areas

I don't believe that's the case. All the car makers are looking to build competence in EV design and manufacture. It's a seller's market for these skills at the moment, with a shortage of capability in things like traction battery engineering, traction electronics, power management, automotive motor control systems, and the like. And continuing skills like body engineering need to adapt for a completely different way of building cars. Relative to demand there's few engineers with actual experience, so people have to grow their own (and live with the risk of attrition).

A relative of mine works on production line control systems, and although he's always been UK based, he's now been assigned to a huge "no expenses spared" project on the US West Coast on EV manufacture because of this global skills shortage.

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

Yes, you can buy it. Ricardo in Cambridge specialise in selling their services in this area. There may be skills shortage right now, but that will ease.

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TRT
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Re: a motor per wheel connected to some dampers...

automatically adjusts between driving over hard surfaces and carpet.

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WTF?

Re: Well, electric cars are much simpler...

Am I the only one thinking

"C5"?

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

If the Dyson car is radical will will innovate in production. What Tesla and the others are doing is only replace the an ICE drivetrain with an electric one - there's no change in manufacturing or distributions. Dyson would be capable of doing production - they might licence a process (e.g. Gordon Murray's iStream) or they might do something from scratch.

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

Perhaps that is just what we need. Look at Tesla. Musk had no expertise in cars either and look what he did. The Tesla Model S is the no.1 electric vehicle to which all others are judged.

We need guys like Dyson and Musk whom think outside the box to find innovative automotive solutions. Especially since the "classic" automotive industry keeps dragging their feet. In fact were are the BMW's, Mercedes, GM and Ford e-cars? GM even destroyed most of their own E-car-project probably in favour for some stupid sheiks or a corrupt government. It's about time that the corrupt car-industry is brought on its knees and that other players break their barriers.

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Re: Well, electric cars are much simpler...

yeah but that one used a simple whirlpool engine. This one has a turbo (aka cyclone). :-)

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Re: The date seems very optimistic

Lol! Well, we laugh, but it could actually clean the garage of leaves every time you park it or leave.

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Re: Well, electric cars are much simpler...

It doesn't matter, he will be the first producer to use a Digital Car motor.

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Pollution impact

Apparently Dyson has warned that this will be a very expensive vehicle. Presumably this places it out of reach for most drivers. How will such a car do anything to affect pollution if the vast majority of drivers can't afford it?

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Re: Pollution impact

By acting as a development step.

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Re: Pollution impact

Given the subsidies likely to be involved, the vast majority of drivers will be paying for part of each one.

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Re: Pollution impact

The bicycle was once a toy exclusively for the rich. It didn't stay that way, and became accessible to many.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pollution impact

I still find it amusing that we're so very worried about fossil fuels whilst making cars that replace petrol and diesel ones out of.. plastic. Which not only helps the oil industry but is also making its way into the food chain.

Increasing lifespans of vehicles would potentially help, but we need better plastics we can dispose of properly.

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Re: Pollution impact

Erm, the bicycle was responsible for YOU having Tarmacadam on roads.

Had it not been for middle-class ladies demanding a smoother ride it looked like no-one was going to take up the new idea.

'Toys' my arse

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FAIL

Re: Pollution impact

Oh, I was totally unaware that plastics can ONLY come from oil.

meh

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Re: Pollution impact

The vast majority of plastic products are single use, that's the main problem, cars don't really fit the bill there...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pollution impact

Most of the plastic used in a car is or at least can be made of material which is recyclable.

Also, the amount of oil used in the plastic production is insignificant to the amount used to run a petrol/diesel car over its lifetime. A petrol/diesel car will still have plenty of plastic in it anyway.

The bigger issue is potentially the environmental impact of battery production and disposal, I would imagine.

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Re: Pollution impact

Maybe the answer would be to develop a drop-in replacement for existing oilburning powertrains, keeping the bodyshells of smelly old diesel cars on the road with clean electric powertrains.

If you came up with something that just dropped in where a PSA Group XUD engine (and derivatives) went in you'd take about half the diesels off the road at a stroke.

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Re: Pollution impact

@Gordon JC Pearce

Not going to work. Tesla cars work so well because they are designed from the ground up to be electric. The battery is low down, the car built around it.

Not only that, but with electric you can get rid of much of the transmission which is power hungry, a drop in replacement would still require some sort of transmission I suspect. And where would you put the battery?

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Re: Pollution impact

Batteries are not a huge problem from an environmental impact[1] viewpoint and anyway I expect that carbon based super-capacitors will start to become common in about 5 to 10 years at which point you could simply burn them when you want to dispose of them.

Lithium batteries in cars now appear to last much longer than everyone was worrying about a few years ago and I think average battery lifetime in a car will probably exceed 10 years. After this point the battery will not be able to deliver the high peak power that a car needs but it will certainly be good enough for grid or home power storage probably for something like another 15 years.

Try doing that with a second hand car engine or fuel tank!

Andy

[1] Well, apart from digging the lithium out of the ground that is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pollution impact

which is what I've been asking for ages. Why not retro-fit new technology in current cars?

It used to be done with LPG/LPI though I understand that replacing a whole engine and drivetrain is significantly more difficult.

But I guess there's more money to be made from totally new cars with their own new problems then allow people to keep using their current cars.

Not to mention that most o/t new e.g. hybrid cars are fugly!

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Re: Pollution impact

trunk?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pollution impact

You seem to forget that many diesel cars run over 350000 or 400000km. Which usually equates to about 20 years. My own car is now 10years old and has just run over its 200000km. It's well taken care of and is still in good driving condition. It probably wont change in 5 years from now (provided I don't get an accident). But due to emission legislation I'm forced to replaced this good car in great condition in about 3 years. By then it will have, I guess, about 250000km.

I can't say that I'm thrilled to replace this good car with all the luxury with something electric. Especially not for the price that I paid for this car. Unless I can get an all-electric vehicle with airco, heated seats, leather, navigation etc... for 10000 ukp

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pollution impact

you'd take about half the diesels off the road at a stroke.

That would ba at a four-stroke, surely?

:)

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Re: Price

What i read elsewhere is that it is less about the overall price of the vehicle, and more about how much of a deposit you are able to put down.

Even so, with nowhere to charge one of these things (can't do it at home or work) , i will be sticking with good old dead dinosaurs for some time.

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Re: Pollution impact

keeping the bodyshells of smelly old diesel cars on the road with clean electric powertrains.

And Morris Minors. Don't forget the moggies!

(My wife is actually quite concerned with the lifespan of hers and whether she'll still be able to get petrol in 20 years time. There is one guy in Bristol who is working on a project to electrify the Morris Minor - if he can get it working then I would imagine that the various companies involved in the classic car scene would be quite interested..)

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Popcorn

A car is not an vacuum cleaner.

It is a complex device with tens of thousands of parts going into it. As a result, building cars in this day and age is a massive cross-border trade exercise. Car manufacturers source 70%+ of what goes in a car outside their organizations and usually (in Europe) across the border. It will be interesting to watch Mr Leave Business Poster Child trying to sort out his supply chain to build anything that size and/or complexity. That calls for some Popcorn.

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Re: Popcorn

Or you just get Magna Steyr to do it for you.

But thanks for the information about a car not being a vacuum cleaner. I've noted for further reference.

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Re: Popcorn

Dyson only really do the design in the UK. They'll make it wherever it works out best for them. Nothing wrong with this, just the modern way of doing business.

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Re: Popcorn

"It will be interesting to watch Mr Leave Business Poster Child trying to sort out his supply chain to build anything that size and/or complexity. "

Given that he doesn't build his existing products in the UK or elsewhere in the EU I doubt he'll build this one here either. The mess that he leaves for UK manufacturers won't affect him.

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Re: Popcorn

"Nothing wrong with this"

Unless, of course, you're looking for a job in UK manufacturing.

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Re: Popcorn

Just normal to close factories here ans move it all to China to make a huge profit?

O.K., screw local workers, become a capitalist SuperStar!

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Re: Popcorn

Nissan disagree with you.

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Re: Popcorn

Build it here and risk having your assets appropriated by the state at a "parliament defined market value" if Marxist Labour get in? Or build it in capitalist China where you're safe?

I know which I'd prefer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Popcorn

This does explain why he's so keen to kill off some of the current car manufacture in the UK. I'll be working hard to make sure noone I know buys one.

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Re: You miserablists

I'll be working hard to make sure noone I know buys one.

A question for the Official El Reg Miserable Bastards who seem to be having a field day with this: Exactly how successful does an engineer have to be in Britain before you lot will be positive about them?

The AC quoted above, on the basis of a series of presumptions, reckons they will bad mouth a British designed product that has yet to be specified and designed, that they've not seen, and whose details are unknown. I look down the plentiful whiney, negative comments in this thread, and do I see ambition, hope, celebration of success, appreciation of applied technology, a passion for innovation? No. Why are you lot here? You could be crying about Brexit on the Guardian forums, shouting about the evil march of progress on the FoE website, or attacking success and wealth on any number of Labour party related forums. Its like I'd imagine the Curmudgeons Forum for the Help the Aged web site, full of people who are busy proving that clouds are always available without silver linings. Wouldn't you all rather be on those forums, with like minded people?

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Holmes

Re: Popcorn

An electric car can be extremely simple and bought for less than £500

https://www.modelsport.co.uk/

So there is nothing fundamentally complex about an electric car.

In fact its a heck of a lot simpler than an IC car. No pistons, cylinders crankshafts timing gear injectors water radiators, starter motor clutch, engine management computer, exhaust system, starter battery, lambda sensor turbocharger, MAF sensor, water temperature sensor oil filter...

Look under the bonnet of your car, remove everything and put back a single computer to control a single electric motor, and perhaps some aircon rads and a fan. Of course brakes and steering are still required, but these are not rocket science.

An electric car is a cinch to make.

Apart from a suitable battery.

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Re: You miserablists

Exactly how successful does an engineer have to be in Britain before you lot will be positive about them?

They have to be dead for at least 50 years before we start to think they were any good...

Geoffrey de Havilland (died 1965) just about makes the cut...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You miserablists

Dyson is no more an engineer than Clive Similar. They are both self publicising marketing men using what they tout as original design backed by massive marketing campaigns to sell engineering tat.

I really had to break the death grip the salesman had on my throat when told him what I actually wanted was a Numatic Henry, at half the price, British made, works better than any die-soon.

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Devil

Re: You miserablists

"Exactly how successful does an engineer have to be in Britain before you lot will be positive about them?"

Probably all DevOps. Not allowed screwdrivers.

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Re: You miserablists

Dyson is an engineer - certainly more so that Sinclair. The development of the original Dyson vac was done by him IIRC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dyson

And you can keep your Henry, I'll stick with my Dyson that been running for years and actually sucks stuff up.

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Re: Popcorn

Not normal brakes - if you don't recapture the electricity from regenerative braking you won't have a competitive car with decent range.

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Re: Popcorn

It's worth noting that the wiring loom in a 2017 conventional petrol or diesel car is one of the most expensive components. When you add in the switches, displays, control systems etc for gadgets (ignoring ECUs and suspension/steering controls), there's more electrical and electronic design than in any existing Dyson product.

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