IN THE 18 months since announcing its intention to build an electric car, Dyson has been quieter than a Cyclone V10 vacuum about the vehicle’s looks, cost, or performance specs. But three newly released patent applications offer an early glimpse at how Dyson is designing its vehicles and where it plans to diverge from mainstream automotive manufacturing.
For its $2.7 billion move from the house into the garage, Dyson has built a team of more than 500 people and set up a testing complex near Bristol in the UK, with climatic chambers and a rolling road (essentially a big treadmill). It’s gearing up to build a new auto factory in Singapore, with plans to launch the car in 2021. The company has extensive experience with electric motors and batteries, and a history of transforming everyday appliances—vacuums, hand dryers, fans—into machines worthy of fetishization.
The trio of patent applications, which became public this month, 18 months after Dyson filed them with the US Patent Office, are odd in that they describe some general properties of the embryonic car, rather than any specific inventions. They argue that the design differs from electrics being made today, because it’s not adapted from a vehicle created for an internal combustion engine. That’s an easy claim to refute—just look at the bevy of battery-powered SUVs built on all-new platforms, including Tesla’s Model X, Audi’s E-tron, Jaguar’s I-Pace, and more. (Dyson shared the patent applications, but declined to answer any questions about them.)