James Dyson’s Quest for an Electric Car

For decades, James Dyson made his billions reinventing housework. Now 71, he’s targeting a new legacy – one that’s pitting him against Silicon Valley’s most enigmatic futurist, Elon Musk. But is Britain’s vacuum visionary risking his fortune? And just how far will he go to clean up in the cash-haemorrhaging world of electric cars?

Dyson electric car

Sir James Dyson – the billionaire inventor, turbo-bespectacled, closely buttoned, best known for things that suck and things that blow, but specifically ones that do each very well – took to a stage in early March 2018 in the Meat-packing District of New York and began to tell the crowd about how his latest product sucked like never before.

The item in question was a vacuum cleaner called the V10. (Dyson products tend to have names you suspect engineers coined; this is not unrelated to the fact, as Dyson himself admits, that, “The company is run by engineers now. The CEO is an engineer. All the product directors are engineers.”) It was the latest in Dyson’s range of “stick” battery-powered vacuums, which is to say it is more like a gun you fire at the floor, complete with trigger, than a hulking machine you push around. The difference has seen some unexpectedly comic consequences – when a couple buy one, for instance, the man will often start taking up cleaning duties.

“Hello,” Dyson said, arriving to light clapping. “That’s very kind. Now…”

The V10, he said, has to be precisely built by more than 300 robots and not touched by a human hand, he explained, as the motor, when spinning, produces a lateral force of about two tonnes – any slight wonk could see it fly through a nearby wall. It was now so good, he added, that Dyson would no longer develop any vacuums that plugged in. At this, there was some more light clapping.

Dyson took a clicker and began pointing at 3-D models of vacuum parts on a screen behind him. “Now, in the middle there you can see a very dull silver thing and, actually, it’s anything but dull. It’s a very powerful neodymium magnet that…”

Dyson product launches are a curious thing – a mixture of mythmaking self-regard (to get to the main emporium you must first pass a number of white plinths, each with a different age of Dyson vacuum on top, like the evolution of man wallchart, but about suction power), world-class innovation (when it comes to things that suck and blow) and the sight of an elderly gentleman vacuuming on stage to almost total silence.

“Now, with that,” said Dyson, after spending half an hour explaining each part’s function and design in detail, “I’d like to give you a little demonstration…”

Quote from: James Dyson

I like living on a knife edge. It gets the adrenaline going

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