Dyson: Testing of our electric vehicle will happen here
Dyson, the British company mostly known for its powerful vacuums, is adding another product to its range: an electric car. As it revealed today, it will be tested in Wiltshire, England.
Today, the British company unveiled the proving ground where its EVs will be tested. Based in Hullavington Airfield, Wiltshire, the result of an £85m investment, it includes a 10 mile test track with both highway and off-road surfaces. The proving ground has become home to the approximately 400 people working on Dyson's EV project. BBC reports that three more buildings will open soon, adding a further 15,000 square metres to the total testing space - apart from the new space, 300 more people are expected to join Dyson's EV team, as its electric vehicle nears production. As Dyson CEO Jim Rowan said: "Our growing automotive team is now working from Dyson’s state-of-the-art hangars at Hullavington Airfield. It will quickly become a world-class vehicle testing campus, where we anticipate investing £550m, creating even more high-skilled jobs for Britain.”
The Dyson electric vehicle had been no more than a legend for some time: it was first confirmed last year by Sir James Dyson himself. As the founder of the British success story revealed, he has been interested in electric vehicles since a time when EVs were not fashionable, but the automotive industry showed no interest back in 1998. According to AutoCar, the electric lineup of Dyson will include three cars: the first one, due to be released by 2020, will be a low-volume EV with a premium price tag. It will serve as a showcase of Dyson's car technology and will allow the company to establish partnerships with third-party developers and suppliers ahead of the production of its mass production vehicles.
In order to differentiate itself from the competition, Dyson will leverage part of the expertise it has developed through its cordless vacuums: its expertise in making batteries. The cutting-edge solid-state battery technology expected to be used will be created at the new campus in Wiltshire - interestingly, the space used for the new testing ground used to be a World War Two airfield. Out of the EVs currently on the market, none uses solid state batteries and very few manufacturers have openly expressed their intention to produce solid state batteries. Even Toyota, which has been vocal about solid-state batteries being the key to the electric revolution, does not believe they will be massively produced before the end of the next decade (2020-2030).
Dyson seems to be placing a heavy bet on its capacity to build a sustainable solid-state battery. As Sir James Dyson told Reuters almost a year ago, "wherever we make the battery, we’ll make the car, that’s logical". Given that their first, limited-production EV is expected by 2020, could we expect Dyson to get to a solid-state battery before any other major automaker? It is an interesting race whose results we cannot wait to see.