James Dyson’s failed electric car project cost him $935 million

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Image Credit: The Sunday Times

Dyson opens up to The Sunday Times on the difficulties that caused his electric car project to be axed, as the entrepreneur heads the Rich List.

Billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson says that he lost £500 million (AUD$935 million) of his own money on his abandoned project to build a ‘groundbreaking’ electric car.

Dyson’s eponymous technology company established a Dyson Automotive division, with 500 staff and a commitment to invest £2.5 billion (AUD$4.68 billion) into technology including the electric car project.

Development had begun in 2014 but in October last year Dyson scrapped plans for the car, which had been due to launch in 2021, because he didn’t feel the project was commercially viable.

Dyson and his family topped this year’s UK Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated net worth of £16.2 billion, an increase of £3.6 billion (AUD$30.3 billion) from 2019. In an interview with the paper, Dyson revealed some new details about the EV project – which had progressed to the point that a working prototype was running at the time it was axed.

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As well as confirming that he lost £500 million on the abandoned scheme, Dyson said that the seven-speed SUV, codenamed N526, had a 965-kilometre range, and could achieve 0-100km/h in 4.8sec with a top speed of 201km/h. The car produced around 400kW and 650Nm from two electric motors.

Dyson told The Sunday Times that “there’s huge sadness and disappointment” about the project. He added: “Ours is a life of risk and of failure. We try things and fail. Life isn’t easy.”

Speaking about the economics of the project, Dyson said: “I don’t have a fleet. I’ve got to make a profit on each car or I’d jeopardise the whole company. In the end it was too risky.” He added that when “other companies started producing electric cars at a loss, it became too risky for us”.

James Attwood

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