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James Dyson
James Dyson holds a Dyson 360 Eye robotic vacuum-cleaner. Will he be showing off an electric car in 2020? (Dyson Photo)

Would you buy a new electric car from this vacuum-cleaner salesman? James Dyson, the founder of the Dyson gadget powerhouse, is betting $2.7 billion that you will.

Today Dyson, who made his name with high-tech vacuum cleaners and has branched out into fans, heaters, hair dryers and other electric devices, took the wraps off a secret project to design a battery-powered vehicle, with the product launch set for 2020.

A billion British pounds ($1.35 billion) would go toward developing the car, and another billion would go toward making the battery.

The BBC reported that 400 people have been working on the project for the past two years at his company’s headquarters in the English city of Malmesbury.

The car would look “radical and different,” Dyson told reporters in London. However, no prototype has yet been produced, no site has yet been selected for a factory, and Dyson was unwilling to say much else about his plans.

“Competition or new technology in the automotive industry is fierce, and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential,” Dyson said in an email to his staff.

The Dysonmobile might well have to be radical — in its looks, price, range or other features — to make a splash in what’s becoming an increasingly crowded field of electric vehicles.

Billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla vehicles have gotten the most attention to date, thanks in part to the advent of the “affordable” Tesla Model 3. But Nissan, GMFord and Honda are also fielding all-electric cars, and more are on the way.

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