Max Conze, CEO of Dyson, doesn’t care that Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Google’s Waymo have abandoned plans to make their own cars. That’s their problem. It’s no deterrent to Dyson’s ambitious plan to leap from vacuums to its own electric vehicle by 2020.
Dyson, which has built millions of electric batteries for its home appliances, could go the easy route, and make an electric car battery to sell to automakers. But that’s too small potatoes for the £2.5 billion-revenue company. “We like solving problems with products,” Conze says. “Yes, we could be the developer of the most efficient battery, but that’s not what excites us as much as using technology to come up with a product that can really make a difference.”
Building a vehicle won’t be easy. In 2016, after seven years of developing self-driving technology, Google abandoned plans to build its own jelly-bean pod cars, and partnered with Chrysler for the metal-bending part of the equation. Over the summer, Apple scaled back its self-driving operations, reportedly because the project proved too difficult. Software-focused startups ranging from Uber and Lyft to Cruise Automation and Argo AI have partnered with Big Auto for similar reasons. The only Silicon Valley company to actually make a car, Tesla, has been late to deliver every new model it has launched.
But Dyson isn’t interested in partnering. “We want to do our own thing; we want to do it our own way,” Conze says. Naturally, the Malmesbury, UK, company will work with suppliers, he says, “but we want to do a Dyson car the way that we think it needs to be done, and that requires us to have the engineering that can do the car end-to-end and also to own the manufacturing.”
Unlike other auto newcomers, however, Dyson does not feel compelled to develop its own self- driving technology. Dyson historically has not focused on software, though in recent years it has hired 600 software engineers to work on things like artificial intelligence and applications for its robot vacuum. Conze says he believes Dyson will be able to buy “off the shelf” software in coming years to give its vehicles basic autonomous features like lane-keeping technology.
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SOURCE: WIRED, Erin Griffith