James Dyson is investing 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion, 2.3 billion euros) into developing an electric car by 2020, a new venture for the British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. The 70-year-old British entrepreneur said work began two and a half years ago on a project which he hopes will help tackle the scourge of air pollution.
"Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020," he said in an email to employees, referring to his eponymous company.
"The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I'm committed to investing 2 billion pounds on this endeavor," he said. Details of the project remain top secret, but he said every element would be designed by his company. He told journalists in London that half the investment would go into the car, the other half into the battery. In seeking to launch his own electric car without the aid of an established partner, Dyson follows the lead of U.S. firm Tesla, founded by business magnate Elon Musk. But it will put him up against major players in the automobile industry who are making their own forays into new technology. Asked if he intended to make a profit, he said, "I hope so. That's the idea."
Dyson made his name with the bagless vacuum cleaner, but the company currently holds more than 10,000 patents, and produces hair dryers, fans, heaters and lighting. In his email to staff, he revealed this is not his first attempt to enter the automotive sector. In the 1990s he developed a filter that could be fitted on car exhaust systems, but said "nobody at the time was interested." The research for the new vehicle will be done in Britain, but Dyson said he would decide in the coming months where the manufacturing would take place. The company employs 8,500 people, 4,000 in Britain, with 1.4 billion pounds in annual turnover and has a presence in 65 countries across the world.