Autocar spoke exclusively this week with the companys founder, Sir James Dyson, at its Singapore base, where the electric cars will be manufactured after an initial lot is built on the 200 million pounds sterling of the companys headquarters, currently under construction in Wiltshire.
The new facility already has a dedicated technical centre for a 500-strong engineering staff, both Dyson regulars and car manufacturers such as Tesla and Jaguar Land Rover. It will eventually extend through six wartime aircraft hangars converted to the former 517-acre RAF Hullavington airbase near the M4 motorway in Wiltshire. A prototyping facility will be opened next month and a 10-mile test track is also under construction.
DIMENSIONS AND PROVIDERS
In essence, the patents describe a car that comes close to the five-metre length of a standard Range Rover, but more than 40 cm longer in the wheelbase, at 330 cm, with 4-6 cm more ground clearance than the standard Range Rover of 22 cm, but at least 25 cm less overall height, at a height of around 165 cm.
The cars design allows for excellent angles of approach, rest and departure, even in Land Rover terms, although there is no suggestion that Dyson wants to build an agricultural vehicle. “Its just that we can have these things for free,” he said.
This high-floor/low-floor arrangement is made possible by the location of the wide, long, thin battery under the car floor and the adoption of salon-like seating for the occupants, which Dyson described as a “command” drivers station.
In addition, the compactness of the (probable) twin electric motors allows for a forward cabin layout – assisted by the short nose and raked screen – that allows much of the cars overall length to be used for accommodation. Dysons patents propose a potential seven seats (with passengers in the centre row and rear row mounted higher than the front for good visibility).
Savings of about 10 cm in overall width are also possible, Dyson said, due to the lack of a bulky internal combustion engine and the adoption of narrow-section tyres on large diameter wheels that need smaller wheel wraps to be introduced into the body. A particular concern of Dyson is to keep the front area of the new car to a minimum, which contributes greatly to aerodynamic efficiency.
BODY, SUSPENSION, WHEELS
Dyson confirmed that the car will have an aluminum body, especially because he and his engineers feel that the carbon fiber structures have not reached the level of maturity they believe the electrical project needs. Steel is considered too heavy.
Patent diagrams suggest a battery in the form of a platform mounted under the body. Such a battery would have to be encapsulated in an extremely rigid and well-protected structure, indicating the use of a platform chassis with a skateboard to support the front and rear auxiliary suspension racks. It seems likely that the suspension is height-adjustable and self-levelling: Dyson himself pointed out the limiting advantages of the long wheelbase.