The founder of Dyson revealed the inside story of building a car: spent more than 6 billion to build a car that he is too expensive

If you were given $210,000 (approximately $1.36 million), which car would you include in your list?

It may be a Porsche 911, it may be a Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, it may be a Range Rover, and it is not impossible to even add a bit of money to a Maybach. You can even take the money to Hegang and return to the secluded field.

▲ Sir James Dyson and Dyson prototype car. Picture from: driving

But, if I use the money to buy a "Dyson", will you feel that the screws in my mind are slipping?

"With lower sales, we had to set its price at US$210,000."

▲ "Invention: A Life of James Dyson (James Dyson Invention: A Life)". Picture from: Dyson

Sir James Dyson (Sir James Dyson) disclosed the twists and turns of Dyson's car building in an excerpt from his new book "James Dyson Invention: A Life".

▲ Picture from: Dyson

In fact, according to Dyson’s consistent strategy, US$210,000 is quite conservative, sharing various R&D costs, plus a certain amount of profit, if you want the company to develop in a healthy manner, the final price of the high-end electric vehicle code-named N526 will definitely exceed 210,000. Dollar.

After predicting the price of 210,000 US dollars before mass production, James Dyson realized that "there are too few people buying cars at this price."

Over time, traditional car companies have also begun to be involved in the electric vehicle industry. Compared with Dyson's new car-making power, traditional car companies with rich financial resources can feed back new energy through the profits of fuel vehicles, thereby driving down prices to seize the market.

In this way, if you want to get the favor of the market, obviously the price of N526 210,000 US dollars is too high. And if the price is lowered, every car will lose money. It is obvious that the entire Dyson Group will be put at risk by fighting the price war head-on.

This is Sir James Dyson's unwillingness to see, and unwillingness to let the empire he built by himself in a precarious manner. In the end, before the N526 mass production, after weighing the pros and cons, the loss was stopped in time and the smart electric vehicle project was terminated.

Or, to put it simply, Dyson's smart electric vehicles cannot be marketed.

What is the level of building a car for $700 million?

"Fortunately, we can bear the cost of 700 million US dollars and survive."

At present, Dyson has only produced a N526 prototype car, and its cost is about 700 million US dollars. Since Dyson is not a listed company, so in other words, the 700 million US dollars can be regarded as Sir James out of pocket.

▲ Dyson smart electric prototype car code-named N526. Picture from: Dyson

Sophistication, elegance, and cleanliness are the key words of N526.

The N526 is about the same size as the Land Rover Range Rover. It is a seven-seater SUV. However, the N526 equipped with air suspension has a lower body. At a speed of 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, the body descends to obtain a lower center of gravity and reduce drag. When encountering a ravine, there will be a higher ground clearance, so as to obtain better passability.

The 16-foot (approximately 4 meters 8) long N526 is equipped with a set of 24-inch oversized wheels and matching tires to reduce rolling resistance and provide better passability. In addition, the choice of 24 inches is actually to be more recognizable.

Among traditional car companies, seven-seater SUVs often compromise the comfort of the last row of seats. But here in Sir Dyson, every row of seats is ergonomic. And without the drive shaft, N526 will also provide a completely flat platform.

James, who likes the Eames chair very much, also designed 7 for the N526, and used more cushions to ensure breathability.

More similar to the current Tesla Model 3 to the simple center console, the N526 further directly designs all the interactive controls in the steering wheel, so that the driver can always pay attention to the road.

▲ Eames lounge chair. Picture from: hermanmiller.com

Faced with the problem of excessive energy consumption by the air-conditioning system of electric vehicles, Sir Dyson is also confident that Dyson's existing technology can be used to solve the problem, so as to achieve the purpose of saving electricity.

In the power system, the N526 has two Dyson motors with 264 horsepower, allowing this 2.87-ton heavy object to achieve an acceleration of 4.6 seconds per 100 kilometers and a top speed of 200 km/h.

Although there is no clear indication of the N526's cruising range in the book, Sir Dyson said in an exclusive interview with The Times that its cruising range can reach 966km, and "even on a cold February night in the UK, the heating is on on the highway. , Can also reach such a level."

Such confidence is actually due to the solid-state battery that Sir Dyson bet on.

In the early days of building the car, Sir Dyson did not look at lithium batteries, but used solid-state batteries in one step. To this end, Dyson spent a total of US$105 million to acquire solid-state battery startup Sakti3 in 2015, and plans to invest another US$1 billion to build a solid-state battery factory.

As for the so-called "solid-state battery", no battery manufacturer has given a feasible solution until now. It is more like the Tesla 4680 battery. It lists a point in time. LG New Energy's Asian marketing general manager revealed, "Strive to achieve mass production of all-solid-state batteries by 2026," but mass production is not the same as commercial use, so the timing is not clear.

In February 2018, the British "Financial Times" stated that Sir Dyson was already considering replacing the desired solid-state battery with a ternary lithium battery on the N526. Perhaps the only N526 that can run is equipped with a ternary lithium battery.

In this way, if we want to control all the industrial chains of smart cars like Tesla, and directly build cars instead of just participating, solid-state batteries have been unable to break through. Perhaps this is one of the technical reasons for Sir Dyson's termination of car manufacturing.

With an investment of 700 million US dollars, did Dyson make the most expensive drift?

I remember that in September 2017, Sir Dyson sent an email to all his staff, and he started building a car with a huge sum of £2 billion.

▲ Sir James Dyson. Picture from: Dyson

FastCampany, one of the world's three major financial and commercial media, believes that Sir James Dyson is likely to "steal" Musk's electric car iron throne.

In the article, Dyson, who is hailed as an "inventive genius," is listed one by one in terms of qualifications, wealth, design, and engineering, which is superior to Musk. And with Musk preaching electric cars in front, Dyson is more likely to gain people's favor for electric cars.

In 2018, Dyson's global team reached 12,000 people, of which engineers and scientists accounted for half. The research scope covers battery chemistry, motors, artificial intelligence and energy storage, etc., almost covering the three-electric field.

As early as 2017, it took over the Royal Air Force’s training base in Bristol, covering an area of ​​517 acres and spending 200 million pounds to build a technology center.

A year later, Dyson also established an electric car factory in Singapore, on the grounds that it was "close to the battery production area," and also stated that "the world's power battery center is in Asia."

If Dyson does not terminate the car-building project, it will probably open another car factory in China, which should be located in Ningde, Fujian.

Although on paper, the investment of 700 million US dollars only exchanged for an N526 to land, but behind, Dyson built a running electric car from zero to one, not a PPT.

The 12,000-person team was also dispersed among other teams in the Dyson Group, while the solid-state battery project was retained. The accumulation of technologies in the fields of batteries, robots, air treatment, lighting, etc. during the car manufacturing process has also increased the possibility of breakthroughs in other projects of the group.

In addition, when designing the interior for the N526, Dyson used VR as the main design tool to speed up the work efficiency of the design team.

In general, Dyson apparently lost 700 million U.S. dollars to build an N526 prototype that could not be legally put on the road, but in reality, it brought more talents and more technical reserves to the entire Dyson group. .

Dyson's wave is actually not a loss.

Building a car can only suffocate?

In fact, it is an open secret to lose money when building a car.

Recently, the new domestic car-making power "Wei Xiaoli" has released its financial reports for the previous quarter. While the number of new car deliveries continues to rise, the overall situation is still at a loss.

From its birth to the present, Tesla has also suffered losses in car sales for years. It was not until Fiat Chrysler sold $1.27 billion of environmental protection regulatory points last year that Tesla's overall business turned around.

According to the laws and regulations of different countries and regions, automakers need to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles to earn environmental protection points, so as not to receive penalties from regulatory agencies.

In response to this, Zhu Huarong, the chairman of Changan Automobile in China, said that due to the substandard points, Changan Automobile "earned an average of 4,000 yuan less per car in 2020."

The Wuling Hongguang mini EV, which has created a sales myth, is sold at a close to cost price. In fact, it is also to earn environmental protection points to balance the consumption of fuel vehicles.

In this way, the price of electric cars has been greatly compressed by traditional car companies, making it difficult for many new car manufacturers to make profits on car sales.

In addition, a car involves many fields, and none of them are indispensable. If you want to form a team, you must either spend money on acquisitions, or spend money to dig people, and you must continuously invest in research and development.

▲ Tesla's self-developed chip Dojo D1. Picture from: TESLA

On the Tesla AI Day that just ended not long ago, Tesla announced a self-developed chip Dojo D1. With it, "Dojo will be the best supercomputer in the world."

Xiaomi, a new car-building movement, has prepared 100 billion spare funds to ensure the advancement of the car-building project. It also acquired the autonomous driving technology company Shendong Technology, and initially established a team of 300 people to prepare for the intelligent ecosystem. Formally started building a car as an entry point.

Earlier than Xiaomi, Huawei and vivo had already started the road of smart car Inside, and also entered the car-building track with their own software ecology.

No matter how you cut in, car building will receive great attention from the market. Smart cars seem to have been considered the next core track, which is also a big bet.

And if the car is successfully built, it is possible to redefine the brand, but failure will consume a lot of resources and even make the brand gradually fall. But which company doesn't want to take a gamble?

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