As one of the UK’s most successful companies, the engineering firm Dyson is looking to recruit an additional 300 engineers to produce and build its first electric car by 2020.
Sir James Dyson, the company’s founder, does not wish to provide too much information about the project, with staff being advised that they must do everything to keep the specific details about the new vehicle confidential.
The engineering company is well known for using innovative technology and is famous for its powerful vacuum cleaners, fans and hand dryers; however, it has still managed to cause quite a stir by entering unfamiliar territory to develop plans for a battery-powered vehicle.
According to Dyson, 400 staff have already been working on the secret project at its headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire for the past two years. Development is shortly due to move to the company’s new research and development base in Hullavington, a former RAF base also in Wiltshire.
It is not yet known whether a prototype of the car has been built, and a factory site for production has not yet been announced. Increasing demand for the firm’s products in Asia, including Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea, could affect where is ultimately successful in the bid for the production work, although the UK is still reported as being in contention.
Sir James has previously said that people in Asia have an extraordinary enthusiasm for technology that works; in addition, a skills shortage in engineering across the UK could be a factor.
Described by Sir James as “radical and different”, the car is not set to appeal to the mass market and is not going to be cheap. The motor has been described as ready to go; however, the design for the car is still a work in progress.
With a £2m budget for development and a team of scientists designing and making the battery, which has doubled in the last year, this has already been a significant investment for the firm. This is unlikely to be an issue, with the news coinciding with earnings for the firm revealed as having seen a 27 per cent increase in 2017 to £801m.
With a number of firms globally currently developing and producing electric cars, it is not necessarily going to be an easy ride for Dyson. Tesla currently has a large waiting list; other manufacturers, including established car brands such as Toyota, Nissan, Renault, BMW and Hyundai, are already ahead when it comes to production and sales.
Further existing car brands such as Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes, Volvo and VW are jumping on the band wagon with announcements of new hybrid or electric versions of their existing diesel and petrol engine ranges, making it difficult to see how Dyson can make a significant impact in this market.
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