I spend rather a lot of time watching interviews on YouTube with Elon Musk with my students, most recently about the Hyperloop (which he designed on a restaurant napkin, evidently) but also about SpaceX, and of course Tesla.
And now it seems there is a British rival to Tesla on the horizon. The Dyson Company, of vacuum cleaner and hand-dryer fame, has made a bold move into the electric car market with the acquisition last October of Sakti3, a firm which is a pioneer in the field of solid state battery technology.
Solid state batteries would give electric cars a far greater range than the current lithium-ion favoured by Tesla, and would be safer. They would, in short, blow Tesla out of the water, and revolutionise transportation the world over.
This has happened before, of course. Britain’s last foray into electric transportation was the celebrated and never-forgotten Sinclair C5, brain-imp of James Dyson’s spiritual forebear, Sir Clive Sinclair. Both Sinclair and Dyson have strong links with Cambridge – Sinclair ran several companies in and around Cambridge, and in 2014 Dyson announced that he would be £8m technology centre at the University, The Dyson Centre for Engineering Design, which opened last week.
So far as I can see, the Centre for Engineering Design has mostly been tinkering with a solar-powered car designed to race across Australia (see here), but you have to start somewhere. No doubt Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen are already looking over their shoulders.