Dyson declines to commit to controversial Contrarotator

By James Wells

SYDNEY: James Dyson has admitted his Contrarotator washing machine may not be resurrected and the DC06 robotic vacuum cleaner might also not make it to market.

In an exclusive interview with Current.com.au during his recent visit to launch the AirBlade hand dryer, Dyson said the Contrarotator was still on the company’s radar, but there were no definite plans to re-enter the market.

“We are still looking at it. It’s a strange market — from the retailer’s perspective they make money from service, so it is a difficult market to break into,” Dyson said.

“Our machine was simply too expensive to make. We have been conducting a lot of development to find a cheap way of making it.”

In 2005, Dyson said he would discontinue manufacturing the Contrarotator after five years as it was too expensive to manufacture.

While it was on the market, the Contrarotator sold for 1,000 pounds, and featured 120 patents and patent applications, including its most significant feature — two contra-rotating drums that operated in opposite directions and caused clothes to circle in a figure-eight motion to mimic hand washing. Comprising twice as many components as similar machines on the market, the Contrarotator was specifically designed for the UK market, which meant it never obtained the manufacturing efficiencies possible with a global market.

Prior to being withdrawn from sale, Dyson relocated manufacturing of the machine from the company’s head office in Malmesbury, near London, to his factory in Malaysia run by Sony-trained workers.

In an interview conducted almost two years ago with Appliance Retailer, Dyson claimed the Contrarotator was not dead and that it was undertaking a temporary withdrawal while his company’s engineers developed the machine’s next incarnation.

“We will be back,” Dyson claimed in the Appliance Retailer interview, published in March 2006, referring to the Contrarotator.

Dyson also claimed he was still working on the DC06 robotic vacuum cleaner, which has now entered its second decade of development.

The DC06 has been rumoured to have cost millions of dollars in research and development, due to several false starts, and was originally expected to launch with a price tag of around $6,500. The product was expected to contain several on-board computers and was consistently modified, following technology advancements that lead to further miniaturisation.

“We are still working on that [the DC06]. There have been a lot of interesting developments and we will release it when it is ready — we are not in a rush,” he told Current.com.au during his recent visit.

When asked whether he could provide odds on whether either the DC06 or the Contrarotator would be available prior to 2010, Dyson repiled “no comment”.

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