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Dyson blew it by not blowing conventions

Thoughts on Apple Car, Part 144

Michael Schmidt
May 23 · 3 min read

I’ve been long been a proponent of the idea that Design will be the one factor that will change things in the car space. That’s why I was particularly interested in the ambition of James Dyson to design and manufacture an electric car.

But everyone was disappointed, himself included.

As outstanding as the Dyson product family is, this car is not. In an exterior that looks like one of Dyson’s UK-born competing brands, none of the company’s typical design language can be found. It faces the same bland design issue all SUVs face:

Six months ago, Dyson shared on his website the reasons for abandoning the car project, but it was only now that we get to see photos of what his teams were working on.

In an interview with The Times, we get a glimpse on the questionable planning of the car’s specs:

While its body is made of aluminium, the car would still weigh 2.6 tonnes, measuring at five metres long, two metres wide and 1.7 metres tall.

These are conventional SUV dimensions of today, not the parameters of a car for the future.

The car would have been able to go from zero to 62 miles per hour (mph) in 4.8 seconds – significantly slower than Tesla’s Model X SUV, which can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds.

Future cars will also not compete on legacy benchmarks like these, but rather on the user experience of traveling in a room. To Dyson’s credit, he wasn’t planning to launch an autonomous car, just an electric car. But even that was a misconception of where the opportunity lies. With an autonomous car that drives itself, he wouldn’t have invested in a windshield:

It would have a windscreen that „rakes back more steeply than on a Ferrari“, and wheels that are almost one metre-in diameter – larger than those on any production car currently on the market.

People will stop caring about the size of rims or wheels, or comparisons to Ferraris.

Here’s where it gets complicated.

Dyson’s interior is too Dyson.

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In the interior, he meets his own style, which is … overdesigned. The whole thing is going for looks and still looks like everyone else. Cars today try to give you the feeling you’re in a war zone and have to shelter from enemies. They are designed to make you feel you are racing all the time. No surprise people go too fast on our streets.

But being like everyone else is the one thing. The other thing is that this is an interior of an old world view. Looking at the front view and steering on your own will look dated soon, to me it already does.

Finally, Dyson abruptly ended his project for financial reasons:

„Electric cars are very expensive to make,“ said Dyson. „The battery, battery management, electronics and cooling are much more expensive than an internal combustion engine.“

That is not acceptable. If the richest person in the UK can finance this, who can?

Maybe the richest company in the world?

Thoughts on Apple Car

Conceptualizations on the future car, a.o.

Michael Schmidt

Written by

Director Consulting at Virtual Identity. I spent a decade on automotive brands in digital, and blog about brand strategy, #ubx and #AppleCar / #ProjectTitan.

Thoughts on Apple Car

Conceptualizations on the future car, a.o. shared by former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple/Google/Dropbox designer Ryhan Hassan, Lyft and Snap VC investor Alex Giannikoulis, Wristly founder Bernard Desarnauts, and CaminaLab/Drivania/Shotl founder Gerard Martret.

Michael Schmidt

Written by

Director Consulting at Virtual Identity. I spent a decade on automotive brands in digital, and blog about brand strategy, #ubx and #AppleCar / #ProjectTitan.

Thoughts on Apple Car

Conceptualizations on the future car, a.o. shared by former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée, Apple/Google/Dropbox designer Ryhan Hassan, Lyft and Snap VC investor Alex Giannikoulis, Wristly founder Bernard Desarnauts, and CaminaLab/Drivania/Shotl founder Gerard Martret.

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