Dyson, the high-end household appliance company, may be developing an electric car, if a string of recent executive-level appointments are anything to go by.
David Wyer recently joined Dyson as its new head of procurement after 22 years at Aston Martin, where he had spent most of his time in the procurement division, including the last 15 months as the head of purchasing for the entire company.
As noted by Bloomberg, Wyer’s move follows on from Ian Minards, who quit Aston Martin after over 10 years as its director of product development in order to assume a similar role at Dyson.
These latest executive appointments have added to the drumbeat of speculation about Dyson’s potential plans in the automotive sector.
The business publication also understands the company has been hiring specialists in autonomous systems and machine learning, including Andrew Watson, Symantec’s former chief of machine learning.
In 2015, Dyson purchased Sakti3, a solid state battery firm, for around 90 million pounds ($147 million), and has pledged to spend around one billion pounds ($1.6 billion) on battery-related research and development.
According to Autocar, last year the UK government published a document confirming it was “funding Dyson to develop a new battery electric vehicle at their headquarters in Malmesbury, Wiltshire”. This investment was touted as securing “174 million pounds ($284 million) of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering”.
The document was later amended to read: “The Government is providing a grant of up to 16 million pounds ($26 million) to Dyson to support research and development for battery technology at their site in Malmesbury.”
Needless to say, Dyson’s recruitment of high-level talent from outside its industry doesn’t necessarily indicate it’s planning to do anything in the automotive sector, with people with various skills and rank moving between industries all the time.
For example, Opel, after the completion of its purchase by the PSA Group, appointed a procurement executive from Vodafone. Similarly, one of Ford’s most celebrated CEOs, Alan Mulally, was brought in from Boeing.
In a statement to Bloomberg, the company said: “We have historically recruited from a wide range of backgrounds, as we are a broad church and are developing a multitude of technologies. We plan to recruit an extra 3000 engineers and scientists by 2020 and are working with more than 40 universities globally.”
Even if Dyson is actively pursuing autonomous vehicle technology, it may end up in a similar spot to Apple and Google, where its end game is not to develop its own car, but to be a major force in the supply of technology and equipment required for self-driving vehicles.