This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just difficult

That the one entrepreneur can’t make it work doesn’t mean that it’s impossible:

Sir James Dyson is pulling the plug on his flagship electric car project after two years of work because it is not commercially viable.

For that’s rather the point of having markets and competition, that many people try to solve the same problem.

But let’s say that it does mean that the solution is non-obvious. Which does rather mean that this idea that we’ll stop producing ICEs by 2030, or 2040, whatever the target is, is looking a bit hopeful.

17 thoughts on “This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just difficult”

  1. “……is pulling the plug on his flagship electric car project after……”
    Did you have to? A pun in the worst traditions of yellow journalism.

  2. Dyson is wise and correct. Without energy storage equal to petrol the leccy shitwagon is literally a non starter.

  3. It’s not economic because the demand isn’t there! In the medium term it is more likely an alternative fuel, like hydrogen will be the answer. Something that makes use of the existing infrastructure gets a big competitive advantage!

  4. Is it just 1? It’s debatable if Tesla is viable. The large manufacturers can absorb the costs as a long term punt. But otherwise, there is nothing there!

  5. Woolwoe makes an electric car. It is largely based on an existing ICE chassis. A few assembly-line robots had to go for Special High Intensity Training, and that’s about it. The selling price is close to the petrolhead model. There’s every chance it will suck seed.

    Jag has an electric offering. It’s twice the price of a real Jag. Its sole raison d’etre can only be to promote the Jaguar name, which is unlikely as dozens or possibly even scores, gasp hundreds? of electric Jag owners will find that it does little for their street cred, being prone to built-in unreliability. (Apparently Tim’s buddy Madsen owns a Prius with which he is delighted as it handles the trek down to the corner caff and back with ease.)

    The math is quite simple. Work out the cost of one kilowatt of petrol energy versus one kilowatt of electrical energy. If in your country electricity enjoys a price advantage of times 5 or better, that’s the way to go, and yes I have factored in that the residual value of an EV is zip zero zilch and you may even have to pay someone to tow it away.

    One last word of advice. If you see a crashed EV, stay well clear. Do not repeat not touch the bodywork which may be live with 300 Volts.

  6. A shame, as in tests Dyson’s car was shown to pick up the tiny particles that other electric cars left in the carpet.

  7. “One last word of advice. If you see a crashed EV, stay well clear. Do not repeat not touch the bodywork which may be live with 300 Volts.”

    Could we not glue the hands of ER protesters to one?

  8. Andrew C – you’re not wrong… from the above link. He was going to make it not only clean but also a mobile hoover.

    “First up, we were treated to an old clip of Blue Peter, from the 90s, where Anthea Turner interviewed him about his new device to clean soot from the exhaust of diesel vehicles… it was the cyclone from his vacuum cleaner, put to a different use.”

  9. One thing is that Dyson is still entrepreneur run, like Microsoft in the days of Bill, or Apple under Jobs. These people care about stuff like the product being good, the product making money. And they will axe things as soon as they realise they’re bad, change the direction of the company overnight.

    The likes of Ford et al will keep throwing money at electric and self-driving for years because, well, the executives really don’t care that much. The CEO of Ford was selling office furniture 6 years ago. And if Ford don’t make big money, how much worse off is he, really?

    The future isn’t electric cars, it’s people driving less. It’s people doing 1-2 mile journeys on electric scooters and bikes. It’s people working from home.

  10. I suspect he saw the writing on the wall for electric vehicle subsidies and he is a new entrant to the market

    Tesla has successfully farmed subsidies for ages

    More money to be made on components for the large volume manufacturers who might be able to make money out of them

  11. Ford (for example) has to spend on electric cars just in case they succeed and wipe out its ICE business. Dyson has no such defensive motive: once he’s established that it’s a lousy idea he can just pull out.

    P.S. Have I told you that when Mr Musk is finally rumbled and investigated I insist the imbroglio be referred to as Elongate?

  12. It seems like he was more interested in battery technology which research is continuing on, the EV was just a convenient platform for it and as said no doubt he hoovered up a few grants or subsidies along the way

  13. Wonko the sane

    In the medium term it is more likely an alternative fuel, like hydrogen will be the answer. Something that makes use of the existing infrastructure gets a big competitive advantage!

    But hydrogen fueling doesn’t really use much of the existing infrastructure. Hydrogen can’t be dispensed like gasoline (or diesel) since it is a gas that requires high-pressure storage, and that means an expensive retro-fit for every gas station that becomes a ‘hydrogen station.’ The hydrogen source could either be electrolysis or steam-methanol reformation – not a lot of electrolysers around (nor methanol reformers) at the scale required to feed the transportation market.
    I imagine ICE cars could run on hydrogen after you remove the fuel pump and modify the injectors (but that’s way outside my area), so to an extent you continue to use the ICE production infrastructure. You also need high pressure hydrogen storage in the place of a conventional fuel tank – I suspect that the retro-fit costs to convert existing ICE-vehicles to Hydrogen will be cost-prohibitive. The alternative to ICEs burning Hydrogen would be use in fuel cells – but those never seemed to gain much traction, and that’s more of our existing infrastructure that isn’t re-used.

  14. Absent an unforeseeable breakthrough in electrical storage technology, most road transport (and all sea and air transport) will continue to operate by burning hydrocarbons in an ICE. Nothing else we know of* can come close in terms of energy density. Said hydrocarbons don’t necessarily have to be produced by digging up dead dinosaurs, of course.

    * I’d quite fancy a compact fusion source. More likely than supercapacitors in my view.

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