Site icon Alan Mather – In The Eye Of The Storm

Dyson and EVs

Dyson announced yesterday that it’s planned foray into Electric Vehicles was no longer commercially viable. The original investment was expected to be £2-2.5bn.

EVs are no more for Dyson, it seems, but it’s still going to press ahead with its investment in batteries, particularly solid state varieties. If I recall correctly, about half of the original investment was for the car itself and half for batteries – so this is still an investmnet of over £1bn in new capabilities (those batteries could still supply cars for other manufacturers of course, or could be solely for Dyson’s current and any future products).

Why decide this now?

It could, and probably is, all of these. The ROI profile must look daunting, especially in an uncertain market where realistic large scale take up is a decade away (at the mass market, global level – the point of pickup in volumes is perhaps 3-5 years away).

Perhaps the most important point is Dyson went all in, quickly. And then all out, quickly. He saw an opportunity and funded it, but then saw that it wasn’t going to pan out as planned, and so pulled the funding. J

This strikes me as the mind of an instute businessman, used to carrying out experiments, working at full capacity

– He saw an opportunity and allocated investment capital to it. We don’t know how much of the £2.5bn has been spent, or is wasted effort, or can’t be unwound of course.

– Early in the experiment it was clear that there were significant hurdles, e.g.

And so he reviewed his investment/experiment and decided it would take more time and money than he wanted to commit. Could he have figured that out by commissioning studies to assess feasibility and so on? Sure he could, and maybe he did and that’s why it’s been cancelled, but the way of the engineer is to start building it and see whether it will work, and it sounds to me that that’s how he approached it.

Just as I’ve written here before, projects fail. They fail all the time. The trick is to see the failure coming, be sure it’s really failing and can’t be picked up, and that it’s not failing becuase of an elementary error (that is, you have learned the lessons that others learned before you), and then address that.

It’s a bold decision. And his investments live to make a return another day. Does this mean anything for the overall move to EVs though? Seems unlikely – it’s evidence that new entrants will struggle and reinforces why partnerships are increasingly the thing both within the existing motor industry and for those trying to break in.

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