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Chapter Nine

The Car

James Dyson stood in front of the Dyson car
  • Sketch drawings of the car


    Early concept sketches of the car.

  • James Dyson with a scale clay model of the electric car

    Car modelling

    One of the aspects of the car project Pete and I most enjoyed was the process of working with clay on the scale model. If you look closely you can see we used a mirror to help us. The shape of the car was wholly organic, born out of the engineering rather than being specifically styled.

  • Front view of a scale model of the car

    Car design

    A scale model of the electric car. A top secret project for many years, N526 was our code name for it – seen here on the mocked-up registration plate.

  • James Dyson and Pete Gammack working on the car project

    Working with Pete Gammack

    When we first started the car project, architect Chris Wilkinson created a secretive space for the small, exceptional team within one of our buildings on our Malmesbury campus. It happened to be next to where the production line for the vacuum cleaners once was, many years earlier. By the time I took the decision to stop the project, the team had grown to 500 and was based at our newly renovated airfield, Hullavington.

  • Side view of the exterior of the car

    Car exterior

    Like Alec Issigonis' design classic, the Mini, we placed the wheels of our car at the outer edges of the body. This gave greater room inside for passengers, and large battery tray and improved the handling of the car. The large wheels would have been the biggest on the market. They allowed for lower rolling resistance and an improved ride.

  • Concept drawings of the Dyson car


    An early concept for the car.

  • Profile view of James Dyson sitting in a test car frame

    Seating testing

    Testing out an early version of the seats. Comfort for the driver as well as each passenger was paramount.

  • View of the Eames inspired design for the Dyson car seat

    Eames' style

    The final design of the seats. Highly comfortable, they were my homage to Eames' iconic padded chair. It was more complicated than we had anticipated to reach this design. Safety laws for car seats meant we had to be even more creative in adhering to regulations without the design being the ugly norm you see in most cars today.

  • Front view of a full-scale model of the car


    We went to great lengths to keep the car under wraps. We only brought the car out into a compound with screens to shield it from view. What you see here is actually a clay model.

  • Car with handwritten notes and comments from James Dyson


    My notes on the rear view of the car. If I can't feedback to our engineers or work on a project in person, I still like to handwrite my notes as I used to when I first started out.

  • Cross-section view of the car


    Seating up to seven people, the car was designed to be spacious and comfortable. This was possible because of the spacing of the wheels.

  • The steering wheel

    Steering wheel

    The car's steering wheel held all the controls, leaving the centre console clutter-free. The design removed the need to fumble around with switches on the dashboard.

  • Old photo of Hullavington airfield under construction in 1938


    One of the hangars at Hullavington airfield under construction before WWII. It was important to me to bring them back to life rather than simply knock them down and begin again when we bought the property.

  • Long interior view of the Dyson office space, Hangar 86


    The interior of Hangar 86 before we moved in.

  • James Dyson working hands-on with the car project


    Always hands on with the car!

  • Images of various seat designs for the car


    The seats were designed to have horizontal pads for lumbar support and good ventilation and better contouring to the body.

  • Side view of the car complete with notes and annotations


    The car was designed to perform in all terrains – including the ability to wade through flash floods of up to 920mm deep. It had four wheel drive and four wheel steering.

  • Close up of Dyson car headlamps


    The head lamps were projectors and we used live edge acrylic for the indicators which gives a much more intense strip of light.

  • The battery tray for the car on a trolley


    The battery tray for the car on a trolley. Over 8,500 battery cells gave a 600 mile range.

  • A Dyson designed ventilator designed during the Covid-19 pandemic


    In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Dyson engineers stopped everything to design a ventilator to help save lives. They did this in just 30 days with Dyson absorbing the £20m it cost to achieve. I am proud to work alongside such people.