British vacuum and consumer goods giant Dyson says it plans to release a fully electric vehicle by 2020.

Company founder James Dyson released the news in an email to staff that the company later made public.

The British inventor, who first made his fortune by inventing a new type of vacuum cleaner before moving on to innovate with fans and hairdryers, says in the letter that it has long been his ambition to solve "the global problem of air pollution."

Many of the company's technologies, including expertise in batteries, air filtration and insulation, already have applications in the automotive world.

"We finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together in a single product," Dyson said. "Dyson has begun work on a battery electric vehicle, due to be launched in 2020."

While details are sparse, London-based Dyson says a staff of 400 will work on the project, and that figure is expected to grow. Dyson says he is committed to invest the equivalent of more than $3.3 billion Cdn into the project.

The company has been rumoured to have been interested in building an electric car since at least last year, when a British government document let it slip that it had been working with the company on building a battery-powered vehicles, British media reported at the time.

A year earlier, Dyson acquired Michigan-based battery firm Sakti3, which holds a number of patents for what's known as solid-state batteries that hold their charges longer than conventional batteries.

The company's interest in electric cars makes it just the latest to move into the space, with high-profile companies such as Tesla and its recently unveiled Model 3 making slow and steady gains on conventional automakers like GM, Ford and Chrysler, which have offered electric cars for a few years now.

Swedish carmaker Volvo recently announced it would only make hybrid or electric cars by 2019, and German carmakers Volkswagen and BMW have similarly ambitious plans.