A patent application filed 18 months ago by Dyson Corporation has just been made public. In an e-mail to employees, founder James Dyson included a drawing from that application to employees this week, telling them it offers “a glimpse of some of the inventive steps” the company is considering, according to Automotive News. Dyson says the patent filing is “deliberately light on specifics” and cautions workers not to discuss details with those outside the company.
The company says the car will be “radically different” from anything seen before on the road, but the drawing looks an awful lot like a 15-year-old Audi Allroad or perhaps a 1957 Plymouth station wagon. The front and rear wheels are pushed out to the corners of the car and larger, narrower tires are specified, which may help with efficiency.
Those large wheels are said to make the car “highly manoeuvrable … and improving handling on rough terrain.” The primary market for Dyson electric cars is believed to be China, so apparently the new Dyson will appeal to upscale Chinese customers who want to frolic in the Gobi Desert while on holiday.
According to The Guardian, the Dyson car will be priced about the same as Tesla’s Model X. Although it will have high ground clearance, its overall height will be lower than most SUVs. A larger but thinner battery pack than its rivals will provide more room inside. The driver will sit lower in the cabin with a shallow-angled windscreen improving aerodynamics. Apparently Dyson doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the high seating offered by most SUVs is one of the things customers like best about those vehicles.
What actually emerges from the new Dyson factory in Singapore in 2021 (the new car was supposed to go into production in 2020 but delays in EV manufacturing are the norm, as any Tesla watcher can attest) may bear little resemblance to the drawing seen above.
In his e-mail, James Dyson said the car would “include fundamentally new technologies and make some inventive leaps” but cautioned “we do not always use patents or make products based on patents that we have filed.” He added that some competitors have missed opportunities by adapting electric vehicles from existing formats but the Dyson will be “a vehicle which has been developed from the bottom up.”
And it will be fundamentally British, if anyone cares about such things when almost all that nation’s most iconic automotive companies are now owned by German manufacturers. The design, engineering, and testing of prototypes is all being carried out at the former Hullavington airfield which Dyson has converted into a modern tech center.
A car is a pretty simple affair. Four wheels, some sort of motor, and seats for passengers. Many manufacturers perseverate over the design of the front grille in an attempt to distinguish their cars from all the billions of other cars on the road. What will distinguish the Dyson from the competition?
This is just a guess, but knowing a bit about the history of the company, I am going to say the electric motors Dyson uses will be technically superior to and more efficient than those used by most other companies. Efficiency will become the benchmark for electric cars in much the same way that cubic inches were once the benchmark for gasoline powered offerings from Detroit.
Dyson is investing £2.5 billion in its electric car venture. It will be interesting to see what the return on that investment will be.