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Vacuum Maker to Develop an Electric Car

When you think of an electric car, you probably don’t think of driving one made by the same company that gives vacuums their oomph.

That may change.

Late last month, the billionaire inventor James Dyson (the guy behind the beloved bagless vacuum) announced over Twitter that his company has begun working on a battery electric vehicle, due to launch in 2020.

Electric Dreams

In an impassioned statement, Dyson emphasized a keen interest in the automotive industry that goes back to the late 1980s, when he read a paper on the potentially hazardous effects of diesel exhaust on lab rats and mice. It inspired him to create a cyclonic filter (which became the basis of Dyson’s bagless technology) to capture soot from diesel exhaust.

He says the automotive industry wasn’t interested. But his interest in cleaning up cars hasn’t waned.

“It has remained my ambition to find a solution to the global problem of air pollution,” he said. “Some years ago […] I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem.”

Spendy New Venture

Dyson has said that he expects to spend upwards of $2.7 billion to leverage the company’s existing expertise in batteries and electric motors. He went on to say that, in 2015, he put together a team of 400 engineers to figure out how to transfer the technology from the eponymous bagless floor cleaners to cutting-edge cars.

The company isn’t divulging any details on what the electric car might look like, or even the specific type of battery it will use. Mr. Dyson seems extremely focused on “finding a solution to the world’s largest single environmental risk” — air pollution exposure.

With the electric vehicle industry evolving in countless ways, it may just be the vacuum giants to clean up.


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