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Vacuum Company Dyson To Build 'Radically Different' Electric Car (theguardian.com) 177

British inventor Sir James Dyson has announced plans to build an electric car that will be "radically different" from current models and go on sale in 2020. The Guardian reports: The billionaire who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner said 400 engineers in Wiltshire had been working since 2015 on the 2.5 billion British pound project. No prototype has yet been built, but Dyson said the car's electric motor was ready, while two different battery types were under development that he claimed were already more efficient than in existing electric cars. Dyson said consumers would have to "wait and see" what the car would look like: "We don't have an existing chassis [...] We're starting from scratch. What we're doing is quite radical." However, he said the design was "all about the technology" and warned that it would be an expensive vehicle to purchase. While he did not name a price, he said: "Maybe the better figure is how much of a deposit they would be prepared to put down."
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Vacuum Company Dyson To Build 'Radically Different' Electric Car

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:54PM (#55267001)

    totally suck!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @11:56PM (#55267693)

      I'm going to go against the grain by saying I was extremely impressed with their engineering prowess.

      I watched a YouTube video where a mechanical engineer disassembled one of their motors and used an oscilloscope to show how they got so much power out of a tiny little moter.

      I'm not joking it was actually very impressive, the way the power ramped up using a digital function was amazing. It wasn't like they just used a bigger motor and applied simple power to it. The motor was receiving so much power that it would actually be destroyed if the power wasn't ocellated in that exact way.

      So if anything I think they're major innovation is going to be the motor in the vehicle. I'm not so interested in the rest of their packaging but I will always acknowledge and impressive engineering talent whenever I see it.

      • Seems like he is also banking on better battery tech as well
      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        That may be "revolutionary" for small electronics, but waveform sculpting with IGBTs is standard for EV motors. Except with vastly higher powers. Nobody's using brushed PM motors for EVs, unless you're talking about something equivalent to a golf cart. And it's been that way since the EV1 days.

        If you want to see the direction Tesla is headed nowadays, for example, here's an interview [chargedevs.com] with their motor guy.

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @05:00AM (#55268219)

        I'm not joking it was actually very impressive, the way the power ramped up using a digital function was amazing.

        Dyson has a long history of taken existing and well known concepts and putting them in a different box. These examples are just the latest. Their vacuum is nothing more than taking Dyson's own off the shelf shop vac, and then trial and erroring his way to make it smaller because he didn't understand the calculations developed 40 years earlier. The jet drier... Just a Mitsubishi version that looks a bit better. The air multiplier fan? Toshiba's patent with a slightly smaller motor (20 years after Toshiba stopped making them) so it doesn't have as big a base. Their hair drier? All looks with the airmultiplier concept. 10x the price of a traditional one, same airflow, same heating, but much heavier.

        Waveform sculpting for efficient motor driving is second year university level stuff, and any idiot can show you cool pictures on an oscilloscope. What it does result in is fantastically small motor designs that are almost impossible to repair, which is one of the reason why waveform sculpting has never left the "it needs to be as small as possible" realm and moved into wider industry.

      • Was this video created/sponsored by Dyson?
        I am not doubting the company does some good engineering. But they are also good at the sales pitch. Much like Apple.
        When they state a band new approach, they may just mean an incremental improvement solving some inefficiency in the process. The electric motor for automotive use is still a new process and I bet things can be approved.

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          "When they state a band new approach, they may just mean an incremental improvement solving some inefficiency in the process. "

          I'd argue that all they're doing is good marketing with crap inside of pretty packaging. They've become trendy, and high priced because people want to show off their fancy expensive Dyson. Not because their products are better...at all.

          • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

            Not because their products are better...at all.

            Disagree. I have DC59, going on 8 years now. After buying a new lower priced vacuum every other year, I'd argue that they do build a decent product. Is it perfect? No, but it's held up.

            They've become trendy, and high priced because people want to show off their fancy expensive Dyson.

            Really? Do people really show off their vacuums? Can't say I ever have.

            • 8 Years? We still use the Electrolux canister vacuum we were given as a wedding present - 27 years ago. We have also had/have 5 uprights that my wife bought because she doesn't like using the canister. They all failed/didn't suck well enough and went out the door. Including the Dyson.
              • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

                We still use the Electrolux canister vacuum

                Now you're talking a completely different level of vacuum. Not really fair to compare a $400 piece of equipment to something that likely cost $1200+ in today's dollars.

                • Why not? You're comparing a $400 Dyson to something that is lower priced in your original post...

                  • by Pascoea ( 968200 )
                    You have a fair point, I should have been clearer. What I was driving at is I would expect something costing 3x more to perform better.
                  • So I can buy a reliable vacuum for $400 or I can buy one equally as reliable for $1200? I'll take $400. Also, an additional factor in the dyson vacuum is that the pieces fit and click together very nicely. Easy to pull the handle out into a hose, etc. I know many people with old Dysons that simply are not dying.
          • When Dyson first came out with their bagless vacuums, in the early 1990s, in the UK and nowhere else, the concept was completely revolutionary (NPI) - at least, from a consumer point of view. It was immediately copied by most vacuum makers and by the time Dyson started selling in the US, bagless vacuums were pretty much the default and Dyson's sole distinguishing point seemed to be that they were more expensive.

            It certainly was true that middle class households used to show them off in the UK in the 1990

        • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

          Was this video created/sponsored by Dyson?

          No. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] This guy doesn't do "sponsored" videos. You should check out his channel, dude's funny as hell and is pretty smart.

      • The motor was receiving so much power that it would actually be destroyed if the power wasn't ocellated in that exact way.

        I can imagine the sales pitch now.

        The Dysonette, the only electric car that comes with its own built-in self-destruction mechanism.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        What innovation though... Motors already have more than enough power, the car has to use traction control to keep the wheels from spinning even in an original Nissan Leaf, let alone a Tesla.

        Where innovation is needed is cost and efficiency. Dyson motors are not cheap, they need precision manufacturing and expensive machined parts to work. I don't know how well they do on efficiency, their battery powered vacuum cleaners don't seem to be particularly exceptional in terms of battery life.

        I guess they could ge

        • Motors already have more than enough power,

          Not sure they do. If you get the power density up high enough, you can switch to having wheel motors instead of a single traction motor, and eliminate the transmission entirely.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            That's true. Maybe that's their great innovation... But how much difference will it actually make? I mean, it wouldn't make the car affordable. It might increase the range a bit by eliminating transmission losses and reducing weight, but not massively.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            You don't want to do wheel motors. You want as little unsprung mass on the wheels as you can get away with, unless you are only driving on a perfectly flat -- no potholes, no rumble strips, no expansion joints, no cracks, no ruts, no washboard -- road surface.

          • This are old concepts.
            We did that in the 1980s already.

            The problem is: right now the whole car is made from off the shelf parts. Breaking assistance, electronic stabilizing, anti blocking system etc.

            If you switch to wheel motors, you have to rework all of that to work together with the wheel motors.

            But yes, if we would do that we probably lose a few hundred kg of weight from an EV.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      I'm betting it's going to clean up at the track.

    • That's one way to generate down force...
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:54PM (#55267003)
    Kinda catchy.
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Wanna bet? Maybe it will be a modern reincarnation of Jim Hall's Chaparral 2J [roadandtrack.com].
    • When another famous British Inventor, Sir Clive Sinclair, invented an electric vehicle he came up with this [wikipedia.org].

      I'll wait for this one sitting down and I'll probably need to steady myself so I won't fall off my chair once it does get released.

      • It would have sold great on the west coast USA.

        Actually, in Oregon a tricycle electronically limited to 15mph counts as a bicycle and can drive anywhere. Washington is probably the same.

        I'd rather have that than his computer; actually I had two of them as a kid, both Timex/Sinclair 1000 models. I bought them at a yard sale from a graduating college student. It only had 2k of RAM, and booted to a BASIC editor. When the RAM filled up, it just froze. Oops, you wrote to much code. Start over.

        In theory you could

        • Sinclair made some great computers if you consider the timeframe. The later Sinclair Spectrum was a huge success, didn't really go far in US market but in other places it was a success. No special drive required, you could just hook up any cassette player. A few years later you could use a disk drive if you had one instead.

        • by Pulzar ( 81031 )

          I've got nothing but great memories of Sinclair ZX Spectrum... compared to what you were using, this was a beast. 48K of memory, works with any cassette player, built-in audio... :)

          And, best of all, those rubber keys will BASIC words built-in, so you don't even need a book to figure out what all is available to do. I learned programming by trying every "command" to see what it does. :)

      • When another famous British Inventor, Sir Clive Sinclair, invented an electric vehicle he came up with this [wikipedia.org].

        I'll wait for this one sitting down and I'll probably need to steady myself so I won't fall off my chair once it does get released.

        Sold to the wrong market at the wrong time. Terribly suited to Britain's damp climate- but for a nice electric assist bike-car hybrid for the price of a premium bicycle- it was an idea outside it's time. Considering how bad battery tech was in the 80's it was a decent product. Just marketed to the wrong people, in the wrong place. A C5 developed today with today's technology and environmental sensibilities would probably be a hit in many places.

    • My wife has a Dyson V8 "Animal" at home. It works really well - as long as you have one of the two power heads on it (it comes with one for carpets, the other for hard floors). On its own the V8 actually sucks at sucking - it can't pick up dust and hair from furniture without a power head fitted.
  • Who cares. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:55PM (#55267005)

    Where the hell is my sphere, Dyson?

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @07:57PM (#55267009)

    After investing 2.5 billion GBP already, I sure hope it doesn't suck. The expectation to deliver must be hanging over James Dyson's head like a bowling ball.

    • Re:Sunk Costs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @08:00PM (#55267011)

      Half of that was just in battery tech. New battery tech can easily repay 2.5bn even if the car never gets manufactured.

      • Are you sure he cares? There was a time when the visionaries who were willing to spend their life savings to change the world came from the United States.

        Lately, it looks more and more like America is becoming a nation of bean-counters, ignorant hillbillies and risk-averse security addicts.

        And that's not good for anybody.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Dyson the Apple of vacuum cleaners. Most of their money is spent on creating an image and not on making vacuum cleaners. In terms of marketing, there are sound logical reason why Dyson should not make cars under that brand, it will be forever tainted with, "it sucks", no matter how much they spend, it will simply be crippled in branding terms.

      The big problem for Dyson, Tesla and not Tesla itself but the prod on Tesla has created in the rest of the automotive market. Dyson will not be competing against Tesla

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        Dyson the Apple of vacuum cleaners. Most of their money is spent on creating an image and not on making vacuum cleaners.

        Spot on.

        Case in point: I bought a disposable Walmart chinese vacuum cleaner for the cottage and somehow it got swapped with the $500 dyson clunker that I bought for home. I don't remember how much was the Walmart one but it was cheap enough that I didn't buy extra bags.

      • by Bongo ( 13261 )

        On logic and reason, there's an argument that everything evolves by trial and error and that innovations cannot be predicted, or at least, you can try to predict on paper, but in reality there are many factors, many accidental and sporadic circumstances, which lead to the unexpected. There's an argument that this blind chaotic process is actually how innovation happens. People tend to look for a simple rational set of reasons. But that may be confirmation bias, simply taking factors which are obviously nece

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          "In reality, all successful innovation depends on blind luck."

          The inventor of the light bulb begs to differ... "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

          How many filaments did he try before he got one that worked? Was that blind luck?... possibly, if you think he didn't believe he would find one.

  • if they can make a self driving car that can work year round in the Chicago area then may have something big.

  • Cost (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @08:19PM (#55267071) Journal

    Considering the Dyson hairdryer costs $400, and a Dyson table fan costs $300, I predict the Dyson Car will cost $5 million dollars.

    • Oh it gets better. The Dyson hairdryer is identical to a cheap $30 one in every metric, except for cost and ... weight. So now your wife can get a sore arm while she looks good with her expensive toy.

      • Not completely, but it is definitely over engineered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
        • So exactly what I said. Over-engineering leads to two things: Cost and use of built-like-a-brick-shithouse materials (weight).

          There is literally nothing appealing about it other than looks. A cheap plastic $30 jobby will last you 10 years easy. There's nothing to be gained by Dyson's engineering here.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Yep. Another expensive electric vehicle that will probably bring little to the table other than maybe a Dyson motor that makes it do 0-60 in 0.1 seconds less than a Tesla.

      To be interesting it needs to be one of the following:

      - Cheap
      - Extremely long range
      - Fully self driving
      - Fully self (vacuum) cleaning

      Dyson vacuum cleaners are good, but they have a nasty habit of releasing them with severe design flaws and then releasing an updated model the next year that fixes it.

  • Skeptical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kiminator ( 4939943 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @08:22PM (#55267085)

    I wish him success. It'd be wonderful to have a new Tesla-like operation running (in the sense of a new purely-electric vehicle company). But the smart money is on this project utterly failing. There is a huge amount of technical and marketing expertise involved in designing something as complex as a car. If he's coming into this without involving a lot of people really experienced with all aspects of car development, the chances are really good that the project will be doomed to failure. Plus there's the whole manufacturing problem to tackle. Bringing a new car assembly line into production would be monumental, and even contracting with an existing manufacturer for this purpose would be extremely challenging (especially if the differences from existing car designs are substantial, as Dyson apparently wants to achieve).

    And if the car is too different from existing designs, he's going to have a hell of a time convincing people to buy it.

    • Steve Balmer said essentially the same thing about Apple and cell phones... there's no reason why a new entrant cannot hit a car out the park. There are zillions or car tinkerers in the world that understand cars incredibly well, so it's not like there's not a lot of available expertise with cars nor are car issues not incredibly well understood already. Car evolution has been incredibly slow to date, the market is absolutely ripe for ANYONE with some nice technical improvements to steal a ton of marketsh

    • google his recent hires - lots of experience across fields, even including ex Tesla staff.

      Smart people surround themselves with the knowledgeable people they need and then just pull them all together.

    • But the smart money is on this project utterly failing. There is a huge amount of technical and marketing expertise involved in designing something as complex as a car. If he's coming into this without involving a lot of people really experienced with all aspects of car development, the chances are really good that the project will be doomed to failure.

      Common, it's Dyson that we're talking about.
      The guy who takes the concept of "over-engineering", laugh at it and then turn the level up to 11.
      The guy who cannot comprehend the concept of over-spending. (And that's both during design AND the price the customers are then expected to pay for)
      The guy who utterly fails to understand why there is even a "budget" category, or what are the main points attracting customers to current tech.

      We all know how this will end. (Just look at his fans and vacuum cleaners for

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        He's made it clear he's not going for the "cheap box" market. He's going for the high-end supercar market. The question is, who would buy a high-end supercar from Dyson?

        Perhaps if he blows away the Tesla P100D (or whatever's current in their lineup at that time) on straightline acceleration, he'll get an obligatory number of sales from that chunk of the superrich that have to have all of the fastest toys. That's about the only hope I see for him.

        • Perhaps if he blows away the Tesla P100D (or whatever's current in their lineup at that time) on straightline acceleration, he'll get an obligatory number of sales from that chunk of the superrich that have to have all of the fastest toys.

          And given how Dyson markets its over expensive and well-fucking-over-engineered fans, vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and vacuuming robots, that clealy seems to be the only market strategy on which Dyson focuses.

          And given their pricing tendency, you can expect the cars to cost in the million price range. And thus selling the small number of cars you mentioned will be enough to cover their cost.

          The rest of the planet can safely ignore their circus.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Dyson has been recruiting for a couple of years. It was obvious they were building a car from the job spec. I thought about applying but it was in an expensive, unattractive area and the wages were low. They certainly are not hiring experienced, highly skilled engineers, at least not publicly. Maybe they wanted someone to write firmware for the electric seats or something.

  • I was playing with motors for a solar car project in college (World Solar Challenge [wikipedia.org]) in he early 90's that were 97% efficient.
    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I was playing with motors for a solar car project in college

      I don't know why they do that instead of battle bots. A solar car race will get you 34 views on Youtube; a demolition derby of robots with flamethrowers and chainsaws will get you a sold-out event at the stadium, with a mile-long lineup, and scalpers, and ice cream vendors, and tailgate parties.

      • I'm a loser. Always have been :) I think 'I think I saw about 15 seconds of a battlebot "competition" once.Looked more like remote controlled cars that I was playing with in the 4th grade, so got bored.:(
  • You know that company's track record. Even when their prior products worked as designed and advertised, they sucked.
    • ...You know that company's track record. Even when their prior products worked as designed and advertised, they sucked....

      imo, Dyson shows the ultimate power of marketing. It doesn't necessarily have to work better, you just have to convince consumers willing to pay a lot more to think it works better. Marketing at work.

  • by Blinkin1200 ( 917437 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @09:21PM (#55267237)

    The roads will be a lot cleaner after one of these goes by. The one I'm waiting for is the Roomba car - self driving and learns the way to your destination by bumping into things along the way.

  • How many prototypes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gillbates ( 106458 )

    It took Dyson 15 years and 5000+ prototypes [gizmodo.com] to get a vacuum right. Yes, a vacuum.

    I can only wonder how many tries it's going to take them to get right something as complex as a car.

  • how ugly it will be? For some wierd reason, the designers of all these "radically new tech" vehicles seem to feel a burning need to make it a special kind of fugly.

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @05:04AM (#55268223) Homepage

      Don't mix up "bucking traditional style trends in order to be deliberately unusual" (for example, Prius Prime) with "bucking traditional style trends because it matters for aerodynamics" (such as aero wheels, grilleless designs, greater rear taper, shallower windshield rake, etc). The former is for people who want to shout to other drivers, "HEY, I'M DRIVING A GREEN CAR!!!", while the latter is simply physics and economics - lower energy consumption means smaller battery packs / less weight / less cost (or instead, longer range), fewer cycles at lower DoD on the packs, less cost to charge, faster charging from a given power source, etc, etc. It basically gives you a better, cheaper car.

      Style trends change. Sometimes manufacturers buck style trends to stand out - with the Prius Prime, for example, there's nothing about having your rear end look like it was stepped on by a giant [automobilemag.com] that helps your efficiency. But more often, they do so because it offers serious potential benefits. The latter slowly tends to become mainstream over time. "Back in the day", cars that didn't look like carriages were seen as weird. Raked, windshields (let alone curved ones)? Headlights -embedded- in the hood? A curved hood? Any taper whatsoever? Bumpers? On and on the list goes - all used to be seen as "fugly". As weirdmobiles. But they won out because they offered very real advantages, and people's style expectations changed accordingly as that's what they got used to seeing.

  • [Dyson] said the design was "all about the technology" and warned that it would be an expensive vehicle to purchase.

    While I'd certainly agree that technology (or the lack of it) plays an important part in the slowness to accept electric vehicles, but if you market it at a price that is outside of the reach of the mass consumer, you can't exactly hope for large scale appeal either.

  • I wished Ballard didn't give up on their gas-turbine electric car.

    They just kind of... gave up. At the time there was no real excuse, just a statement that said something to the effect of "Umm, nevermind, we're dropping everything and moving all research to fuel cells."

    Problem is, fuel cells are just glorified batteries. The gas-turbine directly converted fuel to energy without that huge conversion step in the middle.

    • A gas turbine has a big flaw: it's only efficient when running at full power, and a huge fuel hog at lower power settings. So you'd need to install a turbine AND a battery pack, and run the turbine intermittently.

      In the mean time, batteries got good enough that you can skip the onboard generator entirely and just install a big battery, saving lots of money on complicated mechanical parts.

  • Being down for so long two days in a row? A so big site? A site for nerds, mostly from the computer sub-division? Isn't it a bit weird? Also why aren't they sharing any details about the problems?
  • Dyson is the Apple of appliances - selling the same crap as everyone else but hyping it up on the basis of some dubious feature and selling it with a 2-3x markup.

    Given that Dyson typically sells vacuum cleaners and hairdryers I'm not especially convinced they have the resources to produce any kind of electric vehicle unless it is powered by washing machine motors, a la the Sinclair C5. In which case, good luck with that.

  • So it's going to be an electric car that truly sucks! LOL!
  • Unfortunately, to go from point A to point B, the car will follow a zig-zag pattern to cover a lot of area in between, and you'll have to empty your trunk after each trip.

  • Sure there's a market for street sweepers!

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