New images of Dyson's £500M failed electric car revealed


New images of British billionaire Sir James Dyson’s failed electric car project have been revealed, showing the seven-seat plug-in SUV in greater detail.  

The protoype, which has a claimed range of 600 miles on a single charge, is the only car built before the plans for an electric vehicle range were axed last October after Sir James – who has a net worth of £16.2billion and is the country’s richest man – ploughed £500million of his own money into its development.

Dyson has admitted that the car, tasked with taking on Elon Musk’s Tesla brand would have need to have cost around £150,000 to break even. 

In an exclusive interview with Autocar magazine, the entrepreneur declared that the cancelled electric car project is not the end to the company’s ‘interest in mobility’.

The Dyson electric car that never was: More images have been revealed of Sir Jame Dyson's axed EV project, which was scrapped last October after being deemed 'not commercially viable'

The Dyson electric car that never was: More images have been revealed of Sir Jame Dyson’s axed EV project, which was scrapped last October after being deemed ‘not commercially viable’ 

The new pictures show the 5-metre-long SUV with Dyson branding clearly on the rear, as it was revealed that the one-off prototype had been developed to a point where it was almost production-ready

The new pictures show the 5-metre-long SUV with Dyson branding clearly on the rear, as it was revealed that the one-off prototype had been developed to a point where it was almost production-ready

The Dyson electric SUV – dubbed project ‘N526’ – measured in at five metres long on huge 24-inch wheels and was designed to offer better ground clearance than rival plug-in models on the market.

Dyson told Autocar that this was his proudest achievement on the vehicle, which would have ‘given [the] car an advantage’ over its competition, such as the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC.

He explained that the sheer size of the car was on purpose, as it was designed with the Chinese market in mind, which tends to prefer longer models, because well-heeled buyers are usually driven – rather than driving – and want a more spacious cabin.

The enormous length of the Dyson car also means it could be fitted with three rows of seats and have a potent 150kWh lithium-ion battery installed across the floor, which the vacuum-cleaner magnate still claims today would provide enough capacity for the vehicle to be driven 600 miles on a single charge.

The battery pack, with quick-charging cells, would have taken a shorter period to boost up to maximum capacity that other EVs, though contributed immensely to the car’s 2.6-tonne overall weight.

The prototype features an aluminum body designed to add the least amount of bulk to the already heavy vehicle, while special quiet-running tyres would have masked the magnitude of the Dyson SUV and reduced rolling resistance to extend the car’s zero-emission range.

The sleek design and long body was aimed predominantly at the Chinese market. This is because most well-heeled customers prefer a spacious interior because they're often driven rather than taking to the controls themselves

The sleek design and long body was aimed predominantly at the Chinese market. This is because most well-heeled customers prefer a spacious interior because they’re often driven rather than taking to the controls themselves

The enormous length of the Dyson car also means it could be fitted with three rows of seats and have a potent 150kWh lithium-ion battery (pictured) installed across the floor to provide a range of 600 miles on a single charge

The enormous length of the Dyson car also means it could be fitted with three rows of seats and have a potent 150kWh lithium-ion battery (pictured) installed across the floor to provide a range of 600 miles on a single charge

With no buyers in sight for the project, Sir James Dyson admits the prototypes and assets will now 'go into a museum'

With no buyers in sight for the project, Sir James Dyson admits the prototypes and assets will now ‘go into a museum’

Sir James Dyson gave Autocar exclusive access to the one-and-only vehicle the manufacturer had finished, with images showing that it had reached near final-production readiness both inside and out. 

The car, which would have simply been badged ‘Dyson’, was supposed to go on sale next year before the project was binned some seven months ago.

Sir James said it would have needed to be sold from 2021 for at least £150,000 per car for the company to break even.  

Inside, the dashboard was built purposefully low to the line of sight and all the controls are mounted on a centre boss in the steering wheel for a ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on the drive’ philosophy, the billionaire explained to the car magazine. 

Information is delivered via a head-up display with plans for a hologram-like projection in the driver’s eye-view that hovers in the air. 

The dashboard was built purposefully low to the line of sight and all the controls are mounted on a centre boss in the steering wheel for a 'hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on the drive' philosophy

The dashboard was built purposefully low to the line of sight and all the controls are mounted on a centre boss in the steering wheel for a ‘hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on the drive’ philosophy

Dyaon planned to equip the car with a head-up display that showed holograms of information to the driver and passengers

Dyaon planned to equip the car with a head-up display that showed holograms of information to the driver and passengers

The electric SUV was designed to have radically different seats. Sir James Dyson said conventional car seats had become 'a kind of pastiche of the 1930s armchair'

The electric SUV was designed to have radically different seats. Sir James Dyson said conventional car seats had become ‘a kind of pastiche of the 1930s armchair’

The inclusion of a multi-function screen in the middle of the dashboard was only included due to legislation. Dyson admitted in the interview that he dislikes it.

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A closer look at the prototype reveals that the car would have also featured radically different seats that passengers could fully recline.

Sir James Dyson said this was because conventional car seats ‘…have become, a kind of pastiche of the 1930s armchair’. 

He added: ‘Our seats are the antithesis of that. We tried to express in visual terms the ergonomic qualities a good car seat should have, especially effective lumbar support.’

Dyson ultimately had to pull the plug on his electric vehicle project after it was deemed ‘not commercially viable’, against a backdrop of traditional automotive players quickly pivoting to electric cars in response to the Dieselgate scandal, with many key brands willing to make a loss on their electric models.

The break-even £150,000 asking price for the Dyson would be beyond reach for most buyers, in an increasingly competitive market. 

The Dyson electric SUV - dubbed project 'N526' - measures in at five metres long and, fitted with 24-inch wheels, was designed to offer better ground clearance than rival plug-in models on the market

The Dyson electric SUV – dubbed project ‘N526’ – measures in at five metres long and, fitted with 24-inch wheels, was designed to offer better ground clearance than rival plug-in models on the market

Dyson said he continues to be interested in transport and added that it won't be the end of Dyson's shift into the automotive sector

Dyson said he continues to be interested in transport and added that it won’t be the end of Dyson’s shift into the automotive sector

Autocar was also provided with images of one of the powerful electric motors that would have powered the pricey electric SUV

Autocar was also provided with images of one of the powerful electric motors that would have powered the pricey electric SUV

The prototype model, finished in a white paint with a Dyson badge on the boot door, currently sits under dust sheets at the company’s centre in Hullavington, Wiltshire.

With no buyers in sight to continue the failed project, Dyson also admitted to Autocar that both the prototypes and assets created up until the plug was pulled will now ‘go into a museum’.

However, he told Autocar that this won’t be the end of his electric car projects. 

In the interview, he says: ‘We only go into markets if we’re convinced we have a good idea. But if we thought we had the idea and the technology to make a difference, we’d do it. Or certainly consider it. 

‘Transport interests me: this is not an end to Dyson’s interest in mobility.’  

The prototype model, finished in a white paint with a Dyson badge on the boot door, currently sits under dust sheets at the company¿s centre in Hullavington, Wiltshire

The prototype model, finished in a white paint with a Dyson badge on the boot door, currently sits under dust sheets at the company’s centre in Hullavington, Wiltshire 

The car, for which blueprints were revealed last year, was due to be produced at the newly-acquired UK facility, which was a formerly an RAF base.

It had been the subject of a £250 million renovation as a development and test site for the car.

The car project received funding from the UK government, as it was believed the new R&D base would boost jobs in the town.

The £7.8million grant was handed to the British manufacturer in 2016. However, with the electric vehicle project officially scrapped in October, the grant was recouped by the government at the beginning of this year.

In an interview with the Times last month, Dyson said he believed a government plan to ban sales of all fossil-fuel cars by 2035 ‘is absolutely doable’, adding that he ‘hates diesel’ engines. 

A prominent Brexit supporter, Dyson sparked controversy in 2018 when he revealed that production of the electric cars would be in Singapore, along with the firm’s headquarters.

Dyson still backs the decision on the basis that Asia is the fastest-growing market in the world and already accounts for half of the company’s sales.

‘Asians love new technology, that latest thing, and absolutely get design. If you are designing things for people in Asia, you should be in Asia,’ he said.

What we knew about the Dyson electric car before plans were ditched…

The design showed a sloping windscreen, a low roof height and plenty of space in the floor for batteries to be installed

The design showed a sloping windscreen, a low roof height and plenty of space in the floor for batteries to be installed

No pictures of Dyson’s electric car prototypes had been seen and the vehicle’s details remain a closely guarded secret, even after the plans were scrapped.

The patents of the first model planned showed a seven-seat crossover vehicle with plenty of ground clearance, a sleek bonnet and slab-backed rear end.

The drawings showed a space under the cabin floor, presumably to be filled with the batteries used to power the electrified vehicle. 

Descriptions said it would be between 1.6 and 1.8 metres high and 4.7 metres to 5 metres long – around the same dimensions as the current Range Rover. 

The patents showed a crossover vehicle with a raised platform and massive wheels

The patents showed a crossover vehicle with a raised platform and massive wheels

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