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耗不起了?戴森放棄造電動汽車

Jeremy Kahn 2019年10月15日

戴森承認,盡管開發過程中付出了很大努力,但找不到實現商業可行性的方法。

以創新吸塵器聞名的英國億萬富翁兼發明家詹姆斯·戴森決定,放棄制造電動汽車。

“盡管開發過程中付出了很大努力,但找不到實現商業可行性的方法,”戴森在發給員工的電子郵件中稱。戴森曾告訴員工,已成功“開發很棒的汽車”,但公司找不到辦法通過造車賺錢。

戴森表示,曾想找買家接手汽車部門,但一直沒找到。

兩年前戴森公司公開宣布打算進軍汽車業務,稱將打造“革命性”的汽車。不過早在2015年,項目相關工作就已秘密開始。

今年9月,詹姆斯·戴森告訴《財富》雜志,第一次想到造電動汽車時,還只有特斯拉在投入大量資源實際造車。“當時環境很不一樣,”他說。

從那時起,全球許多大型汽車公司都宣布大舉投資電動汽車,以蔚來為首的中國電動汽車初創企業也開始大量生產。總體來看,各家公司預計未來10年向電動車領域投資超過3000億美元。然而,特斯拉和蔚來等電動車公司已虧損數十億美元,為了持續經營,只得不斷向投資者要求更多資金。

最終嚇跑戴森的可能正是龐大的投入。之前公司承諾將花費25億英鎊,其中包括投資10億英鎊用于研究,爭取在固態電池方面取得突破性進展。

去年戴森銷售額達44億英鎊,稅后利潤為6.56億英鎊,在財務方面相當保守。最近戴森向英國商業登記機構公司注冊處提交的財務文件顯示,未來兩年內到期的債務僅為6000萬美元,總計3.68億英鎊。詹姆斯·戴森曾表示,不會再為造車業務承擔更多巨額債務。他還排除了公司上市的可能性。目前他和直系親屬是公司的唯一所有者。

此前戴森曾表示,希望2020年推出新車,之后一年上路。至于公司計劃生產哪種車型尚不清楚,今年5月美國專利局公布了戴森為可能的設計申請的三項專利。新車很大,偏向SUV風格,裝有大角度傾斜的擋風玻璃,輪胎比起典型同尺寸車上的更高也更窄。后來詹姆斯·戴森告訴英國汽車雜志《Autocar》,新款輪胎可減少滾動阻力,擴大汽車行駛范圍,也能提供更寬敞的內部空間。

公司還曾表示,進入電動汽車市場是因為掌握電動機和電池的核心技術,而且深入了解空氣動力學和通風控制,之前已在其他產品上應用,不僅包括吸塵器,也應用在吹風機、卷發機、干手機、無葉風扇、空氣凈化器和LED燈等。

今年早些時候,戴森將總部從英國馬爾梅斯伯里遷至新加坡,投入500多人參與電動汽車項目,其中包括從阿斯頓馬丁和日產英菲尼迪等奢侈品牌公司挖來的行業資深人士。公司表示,會盡可能將造車業務的人安排到其他業務里,但承認可能裁撤部分崗位。

戴森還表示,將繼續努力研發電池技術和電動機,相關技術可用于很多家電產品。(財富中文網)

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譯者:Charlie

審校:夏林

James Dyson, the British billionaire and inventor best known for his innovative vacuum cleaners, has decided to abandon his effort to build an electric car.

"Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable," Dyson said in an email to staff. Dyson told employees they had successfully "developed a fantastic car," but the company could not figure out how to make money on it.

Dyson said it had tried to find a buyer for the car division but had not been able to find one.

Dyson’s eponymous company publicly announced its intention to get into the automotive business two years ago, saying it would build a "revolutionary" car. But work on the project had begun in secret as far back as 2015.

James Dyson told Fortune in September that when he first conceived of the electric car, only Tesla seemed to be devoting significant resources to building EVs. "It was a very different sort of environment," he said.

Since then many of the world’s large automotive companies have announced significant investments into EVs, and a host of Chinese EV startups, led by Nio, have begun churning out electric cars. Collectively, these companies are expected to invest more than $300 billion into the field in the next decade. However, EV companies such as Tesla and Nio have been racking up billions in losses, and have had to continually tap the investors for more money just to stay solvent.

Those numbers may have ultimately scared Dyson off. The company had pledged to spend 2.5 billion pounds on the effort, including 1 billion pounds on research aimed at producing a breakthrough in solid state batteries.

Dyson, which made after-tax profits of 656 million pounds last year on sales of 4.4 billion pounds, is a financially-conservative firm. It has only $60 million of debt falling due in the next two years and 368 million pounds in total, according to its most recent financial filings with British business registry Companies House. James Dyson has said he would not take on significant additional debt to finance his car. He also ruled out the possibility of taking the company public. He and his immediate family are the company's sole owners.

Dyson had previously said it hoped to unveil its car in 2020 and have it on the road by the following year. Exactly what type of car it was planning to build is not known, but in May the U.S. Patent Office published three patents Dyson had filed pertaining to one possible design. That car was a large, SUV-style vehicle with a radically raked windscreen and much taller and narrower tires than those found on typical vehicles of that size. James Dyson later told the U.K. motoring magazine Autocar that the tires reduced rolling resistance, helping to extend the car’s range as well as providing more interior space.

The company had said it was getting into the electric vehicle market because the core underlying technologies—electric motors, batteries and a good understanding of both aerodynamics and climate control—were ones it had expertise in from its other products, which include not just vacuum cleaners, but hair dryers and curlers, hand dryers, bladeless fans, air purifiers, and LED lights.

Earlier this year, Dyson moved its headquarters to Singapore from Malmesbury, England, and had more than 500 people working on its EV project, including a number of automotive industry veterans it poached from companies like Aston Martin and Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand. The company said it would try to place as many of these people in other parts of Dyson as possible, but allowed that there might be job losses.

Dyson also said it would continue its work on battery technology and its electric motors, which it can use in many of its household products.

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