DYSON’S LONG-HELD DREAM ISN’T GO­ING TO COL­LECT DUST

Autocar - - COMMENT - Mark Tis­shaw Edi­tor mark.tis­shaw@hay­mar­ket.com @mtis­shaw

SIR JAMES DYSON’S plan to build a car is in­cred­i­bly am­bi­tious even for a man so steeped in in­no­va­tion.

Un­like with vac­uum clean­ers, mak­ing cars means ad­her­ing to an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of leg­is­la­tion – on emis­sions, crash safety and get­ting a host of highly com­plex sys­tems to talk to one another, and re­li­ably. This is hugely costly and cru­cial stuff to get right before you even think about what the car is go­ing to look like.

A senior car de­signer told me re­cently that, even on elec­tric cars, 70% of the design is de­fined by pack­ag­ing re­quire­ments. With cars, Dyson has less design free­dom than with its other sec­tor-re­defin­ing prod­ucts.

But Dyson joins the in­dus­try at a time when there is the big­gest change in a cen­tury. Tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped now will be in all cars for decades to come, and no one can yet claim to be truly lead­ing in any­thing other than get­ting there first. The game has yet to be changed, which is the op­por­tu­nity Sir James senses.

Sev­enty-year-old Sir James says he has dreamed of this project since the 1980s and it has a sense of a legacy about it. How­ever tough a chal­lenge it is, be­ing re­mem­bered for chang­ing the car rather than the vac­uum cleaner clearly holds ap­peal for him.

He’s built a for­tune but Dyson needs to scratch the itch to make cars

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