Chitra Narayanan

Dyson wants to clean, cool and purify Indian homes

Chitra Narayanan New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on November 07, 2016

Sir James Dyson with a cut away of the Dyson Airblade Tap.

Billionaire British inventor Sir James Dyson is looking to launch his disruptive products through ‘single brand’ retail window in 2017

Smog-hit India has yet another purification product to look forward to. British billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson, known as the Steve Jobs of domestic appliances, plans to launch his disruptive bladeless fan that cools and purifies in the country soon.

Sir James, who shot to fame with his bagless vacuum cleaner and a host of other innovative products and who is here as part of the delegation accompanying British Prime Minister Theresa May, says he has applied for a licence to sell through the single-brand retail window.

The self-made billionaire, whose net worth is estimated at $4.7 billion, hopes to launch his products here by mid-2017. He will bring in most of his products, including hand-dryers, but not the LED lighting solutions. “We have our own stores in other countries and that will be the format here,” he says. The products will also be sold online.

Like Apple products, Sir James’s appliances — be it the bell tower shaped fans or the fuschia-rimmed hairdryers that look like a doughnut on a plastic stick — are highly coveted. They are also priced at a hefty premium. Would that be a deterrent in a price sensitive market like India?

Premium pricing

“Our products have wide appeal in emerging markets. We are growing 500 per cent annually in China,” replies Sir James. The high price is justified also by the subversiveness of the product, the £5-million a week that Dyson invests in R&D at his Malmesbury head office, and the huge tinkering each product sees before launch.

“I had 5,127 prototypes before I perfected the vacuum cleaner,” he reveals.

Interestingly, Dyson products are manufactured in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines and not in Britain.

“Our big markets are here. Far East is the fastest market and the largest,” says Sir James, though in the UK they have the biggest market share (over 30 per cent) in vacuum cleaners and purification.

Engineering wise, what is the one big differentiator in his products? Pat comes the reply, “Electric motors are a big part of it.” Compared with a conventional vacuum cleaner motor, the Dyson gadget’s motor is tiny.

“Our electric motor goes at 110,000 rpm whereas others go at 30,000 rpm. The faster the revolution, the more efficient it is,” he says.

Sir James reveals that new motors are made once every two or three years and this is built on a line with no people. “The lines that produce this cost a £100 million,” he says.

For the British inventor, the India visit is a particular emotional moment as his father fought in Burma during World War II in the British Fourteenth Army under General Slim.

Sir James’s father – a teacher — wrote two illustrated books set in India, one featuring magic carpets and princes and one a quirky alphabet book that the inventor has brought along and proudly reads aloud from.

Sir James says he would encourage Indian students to develop problem-solving inventions and compete for the James Dyson Award, a ₹25-lakh prize international design award.

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Published on November 07, 2016
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