Sir James Dyson’s announcement of his electric vehicle ambitions has been news across the world.
There’s been a surprising amount of antipathy among the public, mostly in his UK homeland. Perhaps that’s because his name is associated with vacuum cleaners.
Elsewhere, especially in the USA – which likes a start-up, preferably from a California garage – it’s being seen as a credible venture. Especially as it’s being supported by a £2bn war chest. That’s 80% of the £2.5bn investment plan already announced – a huge commitment. Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have all covered the story in a positive light. So has the FT.
Nevertheless, bringing a car to market by 2020 or even 2021 is extremely ambitious – that’s why Dyson has been keen to stress that the company has been at work on the project for years, and that it’s been in his mind for two decades. But this is a time for ambition, and once he has a product he can unleash a big advantage: growth in demand for Dyson’s consumer products, especially in Asia, which will drive the global EV market, has quadrupled group turnover in the past decade. If that brand traction can be coupled with product containing unique and relevant features – Sir James is betting on solid-state batteries for a start – Dyson has the capability of market success even if turning a profit will take many years.
Asia is key, so expect to see the vehicles being manufactured there. That may mean partnerships with Chinese businesses, which would reduce the huge financial risk. What that in turn means for the brand – British, daring, challenging, idiosyncratic, innovative – is another question.
But this news adds to the rapidly swelling tide of EV commitment and interest. It’s good for all of us in the EV business. We wish Sir James and his venture the best of British luck.