We said the Dyson electric car was either going to be an expensive waste of time or just a waste of time. We couldn’t understand how James Dyson could propose to build an electric car from scratch in just 4 years. Even if you factor in advancements in software design, rapid prototyping etc developing an electric car to Tesla levels in such a short period of time is impossible without significant resources. It’s taken Tesla over 15 years and near bankruptcy to get to where it is today and in my opinion, the electric car industry is still very much in its infancy.
Or take the Porsche Taycan, the first concept was revealed in 2015 and you can bet Porsche spent two, maybe four years behind the scenes spending hundreds of millions just on R&D alone. Dyson announced plans to build an electric car in 2016. Of course, typically for a British company, it came with the benefit of a £16m British Government grant. And it also came with unquestioning, blinkered, flag-waving media coverage.
You have to ask why is a company worth billions asking the government for a taxpayer handout? In addition, you can do very simple math to work out the proposed Dyson electric car was nothing more than pie in the sky bullshit. Dyson, the electric vacuum cleaner comany is worth around £4.5 billions. The company planned to spend around £2-3 billion on developing an electric car.
Why would a company risk, at a minimum, 50-percent of its net worth? From that standpoint alone the Dyson electric car never made any sense. Take Volkswagen for example, they are spending 50 billion euros on developing EV battery technologies alone. A manufacturer can spend a few billions to develop a car these days.
Spending up to £4 billion on developing and manufacturing an electric is essentially putting the entire Dyson company at financial risk. It didn’t sense from the beginning and it doesn’t make sense now.
It turns out Dyson already invested around £200 million into the project. Around £60 million of that was spent on acquiring Sakti3, a solid-state battery company. In 2015 Sakti3 claimed it was on the verge of commercializing revolutionary solid-state batteries. Dyson was sold and snapped up the company believing it was onto a good money-spinning venture.
However leading battery researchers doubted the validity of Sakti3’s proclamations. As of 2018, Dyson has divested itself from Sakti3. It made more sense if Dyson was intent on developing electric car motors/components, spin the company off and sell it on for many billions. But he didn’t even get that far.
In the end, James Dyson was trying to flog his electric car venture off to the highest bidder. But there were no bidders and therefore no buyers. At least Dyson didn’t lose too much money, but £200m is still a lot to throw away to go nowhere with very little to show. Was it all merely bullshit or failure? Probably a bit of both.