After the bombshell announcement that vacuum cleaner maker Dyson will spend $2.7 billion to build electric cars by 2020, Dyson CEO Max Conze is now offering more details about exactly how the company plans to take on the established auto industry in a Wired interview. Part of the plan? Beating the establishment on range—by a lot.
Despite lacking any real automotive experience, Dyson will not partner with another company on development of hardware for its electric car, Conze said. Like Tesla, Dyson hopes to work from a clean slate and not have to design around existing components. Dyson not only has the capability to develop an electric car on its own, but also to deliver one with range 50 to 100 percent greater than rival cars, Conze believes.
With the longest-range versions of the Tesla Model S currently pushing 300 miles, and multiple established automakers and startups planning their own 300-mile electric cars, such a big increase in range will be a tall order. But it may be necessary to differentiate Dyson's electric car from a growing field of competitors. The billion-dollar question is: Can the company pull it off?
A major increase in range is a big boast, but Conze's claim that Dyson will "do its own thing," designing and manufacturing an electric car on its own, is an even bigger one. Dyson likely expects to leverage experience with batteries and electric motors from its vacuum cleaners and other devices, but that doesn't mean it will be able to build a car.
The components of electric powertrains aren't as specialized as internal-combustion engines, which has led companies like Dyson to believe that they can break into the auto industry. But that assumption doesn't take into account the myriad other components and details that must be addressed—everything from structural rigidity to suspension tuning to cabin noise. Familiarity with motors and batteries doesn't automatically translate to familiarity with electric cars.
Nonetheless, Conze said Dyson plans to tackle both development work and manufacturing in house, only turning to an outside firm for an autonomous-driving system. The company also won't get involved with building charging stations—instead, it reportedly is working under the hope that its electric cars will have enough range that frequent charging won't be necessary.