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Dyson electric car revealed, plus more tech news you need to know

Dyson's N526 was a twin 200kW motor beast with 600-mile range, but would've broken the bank. Plus TSMC and HUAWEI, and more!

Published onMay 18, 2020

dyson car 01

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Monday, May 18.

1. Dyson’s canceled electric car revealed

Sir James Dyson, Britain’s richest man, spent £500m developing an electric car to rival Tesla’s. Then he scrapped it before the first prototype took to the road. He tells John Arlidge why
— The Sunday Times Magazine (@TheSTMagazine) May 17, 2020

Dyson finally unveiled its canceled electric car in a big exclusive (albeit behind a hard paywall) at The Sunday Times in the UK. And it is, or it was, a massive, fancy-looking SUV that took more than $606m of money to create, and hasn’t been seen outside of Dyson, before now.

Now we finally get a look at the codenamed “N526”, along with an in-depth interview with Dyson’s owner, Sir James Dyson:

  • According to James Dyson, who drove it himself in a secret compound, the seven-seater SUV was “five metres long, two metres wide and 1.7 metres tall.”
  • It possessed a sharp-looking windscreen which “rakes back more steeply than on a Ferrari.”
  • And 1m diameter wheels that “are bigger than on any production car on the market”.
  • Despite an all-aluminum build, it knocked around at 2.6-tons, but could still manage zero to 62MPH in 4.8 seconds, via twin 200kW electric motors rated with 536BHP and 480lb/ft of torque.
  • And all at a phenomenal 600-mile battery range.
  • But it wasn’t using Dyson’s long-promised solid-state batteries, a crucial factor that may change both EVs and the wider world of battery-powered devices completely.
  • Instead, it had a more-standard lithium-ion pack that still packed supposedly incredible range, and “would have delivered 600 miles on a single charge,” said Dyson, apparently in all-weather conditions.
  • There are legitimate reasons to doubt that, but we’ll never know for sure.

On the inside, things are quirky.

  • The seats? “I hate those armchair-style seats that you sink into, because there’s never enough lumbar support and you get back pain,” complained Dyson.
  • Dyson’s other design touches included storage compartments that look like “pull-out filing cabinets,” while the dashboard looked curiously empty:
  • “All the key dashboard information — speed, sat-nav instructions — floats in front of your face like a hologram ‘so you never have to take your eyes off the road’.”

So, why was £500 million spent on R&D to not sell a single vehicle? Sheer costs.

  • Each fancy-looking SUV needed to sell for £150,000 ($181k) to break even, which was considered just too risky, with money the main killer.
  • From the exclusive: “Electric cars are very expensive to make. The battery, battery management, electronics and cooling are much more expensive than an internal combustion engine,” [James Dyson] explains.
  • “It turned out that each Dyson would have had to fetch £150,000 to break even, far more than electric models from the big car makers, which subsidise costs with sales of traditional petrol and diesel cars.”
  • Don’t worry about Dyson though. According to the report, Dyson added to his considerable wealth over the past year, and can scrape together some £16.2 billion or so, now the richest person in the UK.
  • Not that Dyson’s own money was ever really wasted: 500 people were employed for the project (“The car people are a talent influx,” said Dyson) and have remained since the car project was canceled on October 10, 2019.

In other car news:

2. TSMC stops taking new orders for HUAWEI, and that’s a huge deal: “TSMC has stopped taking new orders from HUAWEI after the new rule change was announced to fully comply with the latest export control regulation” (Android Authority).

3. Is selling your privacy for a cheaper phone really a good idea? (Android Authority).

4. When did Quad HD+ resolution become a hidden smartphone feature? (Android Authority).

5. The POCO F2 Pro is a POCOphone in name only — but that’s not a bad thing (Android Authority).

6.“Galaxy Z Flip: After 3 months, I can’t stop using it” (CNET).

7. A Mac fan switched to Windows and …has complaints about the general lack of polish: What happened when I switched from Mac to Windows (Wired). I switched from Mac to Windows about three years ago with some of the same feelings and issues, but fewer problems.

8. Facebook’s Giphy acquisition looks like a data grab, and might have big implications for iMessage, Twitter, Tinder, TikTok, and more. Slack has already said its use of Giphy doesn’t involve data sharing. Antitrust? (The Verge).

9. Dusting, feeding mice: putting Robonauts into space to save astronauts from boring jobs (Bloomberg).

10. “What’s the point of r/legaladvice when the answers mostly amount to “get a lawyer and don’t take legal advice from strangers on Reddit”?” (Wired).

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