Dyson has axed all plans to build electric vehicles. Founder Sir James Dyson announced the surprise move in an email to employees, saying the project is not commercially viable. Dyson will rechannel the £2.5 billion already invested in other technology.
It had been a great story – vacuum cleaning specialist Dyson building an electric car that was to be “ground-breaking” and like no other development. Patent specifications showed that the British developers wanted to go unusual ways in design and technology. For example, the wheels of the vehicle were to be unusually large for aerodynamic reasons, and Dyson also wanted to use said solid-state batteries. Over time, Dyson even spoke of three electric vehicles to start by 2021 but those plans have now been crushed.
In an email to staff, Dyson effectively closed down the project due to financial rather than engineering reasons. He said the team “has developed a fantastic car; they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies. However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”
The move affects over 500 employees most stationed at a new base set up at Hullavington Airfield in Wiltshire. Dyson’s initial plan for their EV campus would have had 2,000 employees working there before too long. Dyson had even hired former BMW and Infiniti manager Roland Krüger to head electric car production planned in Singapore. Now, however, the company says it hopes to find positions for the team elsewhere across their operations.
Besides, the £2.5 billion investment programme is also to remain alive, albeit with a new focus. Dyson names the development of solid-state batteries and other technologies that were meant for their electric cars, including sensory systems, robotics, machine learning and AI.
“Our battery will benefit Dyson in a profound way and take us in exciting new directions,” Sir James Dyson told employees in an email quoted by other media. Bear in mind, however, that earlier this year, said development appeared problematic when Dyson wrote off its investment in solid-state developer Sakti3.
The founder also commented on its production plans in Singapore. Construction was shortly due to start as well as tooling up that site. Dyson added that the firm did go through “a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far”. Yet, the email remains optimistic with Dyson adding “in summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore.”
It remains to be seen what will come of the sites or any of the ambitious developments.