You thought the Dyson hair dryer came from no-where, get ready for this. Dyson has announced they are working on an Electric vehicle, due to be launched in 2020.

You read that correctly – here are the words of James Dyson himself: “Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.”

Early sketches of Dyson’s solution to dirty Diesel

In an email to the entire company today, James Dyson has outlined his vision for a clean air future. He writes about developments within Dyson going back to the early 1990’s where they were developing filters for Diesel vehicles.

The idea was to trap the particulates coming from the vehicle exhaust. Problem was, the car companies didn’t want a bar of the disposal problem – who would remove the soot that is trapped?

Early sketches of Dyson’s solution to dirty Diesel

So, instead of bringing back that idea, James Dyson is committed to stopping the problem at the source – the engine. Replace dirty (or “clean”) Diesel with electric power and there is no emission problem.

And they’re throwing £2 Billion at it – that’s roughly $3.4 Billion Aussie dollars.

There’s no information as to whether this is a truck, a bus, a car or a bike, but no matter what it is, It’s another huge shake up in the automotive industry.

Here’s James Dyson’s full email to staff today:

In 1988 I read a paper by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, linking the exhaust from diesel engines to premature death in laboratory mice and rats. In March 1990 a team at Dyson began work on a cyclonic filter that could be fitted on a vehicle’s exhaust system to trap particulates.

By 1993 we had developed several working prototypes and showed an early iteration to British television programme Blue Peter. The team went on to develop a much more sophisticated technology.

To our chagrin, nobody at the time was interested in employing our diesel exhaust capture system and we stopped the project. The industry said that ‘disposing’ of the collected soot was too much of a problem! Better to breathe it in?

In the period since, governments around the world have encouraged the adoption of oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines through subsidies and grants. Major auto manufacturers have circumvented and duped clean air regulations. As a result, developed and developing cities are full of smog-belching cars, lorries and buses. It is a problem that others are ignoring.

Throughout, it has remained my ambition to find a solution to the global problem of air pollution. Some years ago, observing that automotive firms were not changing their spots, I committed the company to develop new battery technologies. I believed that electrically powered vehicles would solve the vehicle pollution problem. Dyson carried on innovating. The latest digital motors and energy storage systems power the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuum line. We’ve relentlessly innovated in fluid dynamics and HVAC systems to build our fans, heaters and purifiers.

At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product. Rather than filtering emissions at the exhaust pipe, today we have the ability to solve it at the source. So I wanted you to hear it directly from me: Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched by 2020.

We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.

The project will grow quickly from here but at this stage we will not release any information. Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential.

In London, nearly 9,500 people die early each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution according to a study carried out by researchers at King’s College London. The World Health Organisation reports “in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure”. It is our obligation to offer a solution to the world’s largest single environmental risk. I look forward to showing you all what I hope will be something quite unique and better, in due course!