British vacuum maker Dyson appears to be building an electric car at its headquarters in Wiltshire, according to a report in the Guardian.
The news follows Dyson’s acquisition of battery startup Sakti3 late last year for $90 million. While Sakti3’s first batteries will likely land in Dyson’s cordless vacuums, Sakti3’s batteries can also be used to power electric cars.
The Guardian’s report cited a statement made by the British government on its website, which read: “The government is funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This will secure £174m of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering.”
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Dyson, which was founded by inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson, has said it plans to invest £1 billion (about $1.4 billion) into battery technology over the next five years. Dyson reportedly plans to build a large battery factory that could churn out Sakti3 batteries.
The next-generation of battery tech could help Dyson not just with making an electric car but also with its handheld cordless vacuums and other gadgets. Dyson’s highly efficient motors, used in vacuums and other products, could also be used in electric vehicles.
Eight-year-old Sakti3 was founded by former University of Michigan engineering professor Ann Marie Sastry and developed what’s called a “solid state” lithium-ion battery. The battery uses a solid material, rather than a liquid, making it potentially safer and less flammable.
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Sakti3’s battery is also high performance. A couple of years ago, the startup said if its batteries were used in an electric car, like a Tesla Model S, it could double the range. The battery cells Sakti3 had working in 2014 could create an electric car with a range of 480 miles, according to the company.
Sakti3 was a rare startup backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalists, that found an acquirer. The company’s batteries are not yet used commercially.
Dyson appears to be focused on electric cars after a year of major growth in 2015, where sales of its vacuums soared in China and Europe. Last year revenue rose 26% to £1.7 billion, or about $2.4 billion, while profit grew by 19% to £448 million, or about $633 million.