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Dyson looking to clean up with electric cars

The latest entrant to the electric car market is a little surprising.  Dyson hope to launch a vehicle by 2020.

Sir James Dyson claims his company are going to spend £2billion on the project.  Making the battery will account for half of the budget.

400 staff have already been secretly working on developing the car.

What’s the car look like?

No one knows.  Or if they do they aren’t sharing.

Citing the keen competition in the automotive industry Dyson is keeping everything under wraps.

However Sir James has said the car will be radical and different.

But the design has yet to be finalised.  Though the motor is ready.

So what else do we know?

Not a lot.  But we do know one thing.

Dyson are not aiming their car at the mass market.

In other words it is going to be expensive.  Very expensive.

The UK equivalent of Tesla perhaps?

tesla

Image credit: Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock.com

Why is Dyson doing this?

The race to develop electric cars is hotting up.

The petrol driven car is on the way out.  The internal combustion engine is about to be consigned to the scrapheap.

Countries around the world are committed to ending the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars.

France has set an all-electric target of 2040.  Norway is even more ambitious.  They have targeted 2025 to ban the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles.

The International Energy Agency estimates there will be 140million electric cars on the world’s roads by 2030.

It all means a rush to market.  Car manufacturers (and vacuum cleaner makers) are battling to be in pole position to meet demand.

renault zoe

Image credit: Dong liu / Shutterstock.com

Mercedes, Volvo, and Honda are among those developing electric cars.  Nissan already have the Leaf, Renault the Zoe and VW are spending nearly £20billion on developing their range of electric vehicles.

Understandably Dyson see a chance to be on the ground floor of a massive new market.  They intend to be ready.

The challenges ahead for electric car makers

Although manufacturers are developing electric and hybrid vehicles there are huge obstacles to overcome.  Unsurprisingly most concern the battery.

Cost, safety, and range are the obvious issues.

Battery costs

Most electric vehicles use Lithium ion batteries.  The price of these has fallen significantly in recent years.  But they are still hugely expensive.

electric car battery

Consultancy firm McKinsey say the battery accounts for 40% of a vehicles cost.  They forecast it could take over ten years before electric and fossil fuelled cars are at the same price level.

Safety

You wouldn’t think there would be an issue here.  Certainly not compared to fossil fuelled cars.

But Lithium ion batteries can easily overheat.  An effective cooling system is essential.

There are also safety concerns should a collision occur.  If the battery is damaged the flammable liquid within it could combust.

Range

This is the game changer.  At the moment range is an issue for many electric vehicles.  Some can only travel 100 miles before they need a recharge.

But range will improve as technology moves on.  Advances in technology will also lead to lower prices.

Infrastructure

The other challenge facing electric vehicles.

To build the required number of charging stations is going to be a huge task.  In 2016 there were two million worldwide.

electric car charging station

Image credit: J.Lekavicius / Shutterstock.com

But car manufacturers will be investing billions of pounds on improving the infrastructure.  McKinsey say the number of charging stations will grow to 12million by 2020.

Back to Dyson

So the market is there.  Will you be driving about in a Dyson electric car any time soon?

More than likely.  If you can afford it that is.

History tells us if Sir James Dyson puts his mind to it he will produce a great product.  If not a cheap one.

But all the major car manufacturers are developing electric and hybrid vehicles.  There should soon be a model within the reach of all of us.

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Craig Ellyard

Token old guy in the office and lifelong Hull City fan with all the psychological issues that brings. To relax I enjoy walking my two Labradors, as well as running and cycling.

21 comments

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  1. Prof.Green 30 September, 2017 at 09:45

    Where will all this extra electricity come from? They are struggling to build one new nuclear power station in this country and the government is stopping subsidising renewable energy. There is also a limited supply of Lithium in the world for construction of batteries and production is not keeping pace with projected demand.
    One accident at a nuclear power station could generate more pollution than all the current fossil fuelled cars combined. We have already seen this in Ukraine (Chernobyl), US (5 Mile Island) and Japan (Fukushima).
    Finally how will they replace the mainly diesel fossil fuels in commercial vehicles, including trucks, trains, ships and planes? It seems to me that hydrogen powered fuel cells are a better alternative source of power whilst I accept that this still requires electricity to generate the hydrogen.

  2. Anonymous 3 October, 2017 at 09:21

    I suppose we, the hapless consumer, can look forward to a couple of decades of exploitation too, in the process of electrification as we are drip fed innovation.

  3. Brandy 4 October, 2017 at 08:52

    Typical of Dyson manufacturing for the rich, you only need to look at their vacuum cleaners not to mention their hairdrier. What country will these be made “Sir” James?

  4. Piotr 4 October, 2017 at 09:24

    now it is time to develop a breeding reactor which will use 90% of nuclear fuel (including U238) – current standard reactors do use just U235 which is ca 3% of the fuel!
    Also waste from breeding reactor has much shorter half times (==it will decay much quicker) and breeding reactors could use purified waste from standard reactors (U238)

  5. Piotr 4 October, 2017 at 09:27

    Government is makig a big fuss on diesel cars – ELECTRIFY ALL RAILWAYS – AND GET RID OF MOST DIESEL LOCOS AND CONVERT TRAINSETS TO ELECTRIC (HAVE SOME FOR EMERGENCY AND MANEUVERS). THIS IS EXISTING TECHNOLOGY AND CAN ELIMINATE THOUSANDS OF TONS OF DIESEL FUMES EACH YEAR

  6. mark 4 October, 2017 at 09:31

    @Prof Green The energy would come from the surplus we have overnight as the majority of electric cars would be charged overnight.

  7. Martin 4 October, 2017 at 09:32

    I will stick to fossil fuel till I die, I am 65 so will never see all the benefits of this, where I live I could not have a charging point, can’t see how this is going to work for all people.

  8. Martin 4 October, 2017 at 09:42

    Piotr, Diesel is only a problem in cities, I almost never drive in cities, and an appropriate filter would make the hugely efficient Diesel engine would be no real threat to our lungs outside the city, also it’s buses and black cabs that make the air bad in London, the black cab is fuel inefficient and is an out of date transit engine, don’t blame Diesel for the failings of our so-called leaders.

  9. Dr O 4 October, 2017 at 09:44

    Prof Green – the “extra” electricity will come in part from shutting down the oil refineries which are some of the biggest users of electricity currently. Renewable energy subsidies are reducing because the cost of renewable generation has now reached parity with other sources and will only get cheaper over time. Diesel engines in commercial vehicles, trains, ships etc are already being replaced with electric alternatives (trains have been moving that way for years!). Hydrogen is an interesting alternative although as you correctly point out its production uses more electrical energy than would be required to power a battery-car to travel the same distance, so some work required there, but lots of research is being done in that area. Let’s be positive about this – the future is not fossil fuels but renewable electricity and clean air!

  10. James 4 October, 2017 at 10:35

    Electricity is a stop gap measure till the next thing, whether that is hydrogen based or not.

    The UK simply does not have the electricity infrastructure to cope with millions of electric cars being recharged, even if they are charged overnight. The constant demand will require much more spare capacity than the 3% we currently have, renewable energy will simply not provide the amount required. (What happens when the wind doesn’t blow overnight!) Already there’s talk of big manufacturing plants being offered money to cut down usage during the peak hours, this will only get worse.

    Then there’s the charging stations required. Just think of how many charging points that will be required, on each street, in each town and city, not to mention the infrastructure to charge people to use such charging stations (since not everyone has a driveway nor can park outside their house).

  11. Dave 4 October, 2017 at 11:42

    As an electric car driver of some three years I have had 40,000 miles of experience. Currently I have a Nissan Leaf with a 30Kwh battery so my range is around 120 miles per charge. It drops off in the winter, more I think from the car being harder to push, though the battery is a bit less efficient below about 5 degrees. I live in Derbyshire so lots of hills, I would think operating on the flat in a town you’d get 130 miles plus from a charge.

    A charge costs me around £1.50 – £2.00 so running cost are minimal. I charge at home most of the time on a 3.3kwh charger (much the same as a 13 amp socket with a 3 bar electric fire) and start charging at 1:00 am and finish at 7:30. That’s my economy 7 times so I pay about 7p a Kwh. Obviously if the battery is very flat, which happens rarely, it might not be fully charged in the 6.5 hours but it always gets me above 90%..

    My driving is mostly local 20-30 miles a day though once or twice a week I have a round trip of 60 miles on top of that so I do about 1000 miles per month.

    There are Rapid chargers springing up all over the place. Most if not all motorway services now have at least one, sometimes two or three charging stations and they pretty much top me up to full in half an hour. Average charge £3.00. Just long enough for a pee and a coffee. If you want to see how many chargers there are in operation already check out http://www.zap-map.com, I think you’ll be surprised.

    The rapid chargers have meant that I can happily take the car from Derbyshire to Cornwall, Anglesey and recently to the NE coast at Whitby. It requires a bit of forward planning but it’s doable and I find it quite fun.

    It’s a shame that Dyson is looking at the top end of the market, we need more affordable hatchbacks like the Leaf, that’s where moving to electric would have the most effect.

    What comes out of car exhausts is not nice, whether it’s diesel or petrol. Would you sit in a closed garage with an IC car running ? I certainly wouldn’t.

    The favourite argument I hear against moving to electric is the, “well you’re polluting just as much because the electricity has to be generated”. I get all my electricity from ecotricity who assure me that it’s all 100% from renewable sources, they have a lot of their own wind generators and solar farms.

    The argument also doesn’t seem to take into account the huge amount of pollution that comes from refining crude oil into something that can be used in a diesel or petrol car. I lived just across Southampton water from the Esso Oil refinery at Fawley. The rubbish in the air from that is horrendous, some days the smell is so bad you don’t venture outside. the air above is often quite a deep yellow. That occurs before you even put the fuel in your IC car.

    For me the Electric car has been a no brainer, lovely to drive, nice and quiet, economical to run and no emissions at ground level. What’s not to like.

    Dave

  12. Norman Rushworth 4 October, 2017 at 12:12

    The tide is continual. With a 45 foot tide in the Bristol Channel and the distribution from Sizewell already in position. Work on the generators could be started very soon. Think big on environmental terms and ignore the small disadvantages in favour of the great ones such as global warming, the cost of transporting fossil fuels etc. etc.

  13. Kevin G 4 October, 2017 at 15:10

    What about the loss of fuel tax revenue to the government? It seems they will have to devise an alternative otherwise all other taxation will have to increase to compensate. One element, the zero road fund licence for electric cars will soon disappear.
    Regarding the provision of charging points for domestic users they can be easily provided for those people who can park on their own driveways but there are millions of homes where there is no driveway and the homeowner cannot always park outside his own home. Will there be a need for an additional meter just for the charging of your vehicle, or an extra intelligent link for the smart meters that we are being pushed to have installed? If as is stated in the article the cost of the battery is 40% of the new cost of the car how will the used vehicle market change to take account of this, or when a battery requires replacement and it costs more than the residual value of the vehicle? The list of questions is much longer than this, but I fear that those in government and the pressure groups who are pushing for the abolition of IC engined transport are not asking them.

  14. Dave M 14 October, 2017 at 08:44

    Will they also be made of cheap plastic, with bits breaking off everytime you use them, just like his vacuum cleaners?

  15. Oli Ashman 14 October, 2017 at 09:35

    Why don’t we use ethanol! It can be grown and made in this country, existing cars can have a slight modification and run on a fuel with 85% ethanol, it is more environmentally friendly and it can be implemented now. There are some issues with ethanol that is made in the US from corn but if we used sugar beet then it would be much more energy rich like in Brazil. This issue I have with electric is the batteries, the pollution and destruction of the planet created mining the lithium and creating the battery make it not worth it. Most of the lithium supplies left on this planet are thought to be under the rain forests and the ice at the poles. Why do you think Elon Musk is trying to get to Mars. He said himself that Mars is an opportunity to be an industrial outpost for earth.

  16. Anonymous 14 October, 2017 at 10:34

    As you say Dave, “It’s a no brainer.” Just wish that the vehicle manufacturers put electric engine into a good size MPV.

  17. Anonymous 14 October, 2017 at 16:34

    What about Mr Vandle coming along and pulling the plug , are these plugs that connect to a car secure. I bet they are not. Think about it . Also one will have to have a load of dosh to buy a family sized car . These little shopping car are crap, death traps.

  18. Dave 14 October, 2017 at 23:16

    Hello Mr Anonymous – the plug on the Nissan leaf can be locked so it cannot be removed until you unlock the car I’m pretty sure the other cars will be the same.. The Nissan Leaf is marginally bigger than a Golf, hardly a shopping car and it also has a Cat 5 rating for safety. Please check the facts before you make daft comments 🙂

  19. mark 15 October, 2017 at 12:59

    Driverless cars will solve the street charging problem, when the car will drive off overnight to a charging station and drive back for the morning….

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