Dyson pulls plug on £1bn electric cars
Tycoon says project is not economically viable
SIR James Dyson has scrapped his electric car project because his designs are not commercially viable.
His company was unable to find a buyer for its ‘fantastic electric car’, and found it could not build the vehicles from scratch itself at a competitive price.
It is a humbling climbdown for the Brexit-backing billionaire, best known for his vacuum cleaners, who once said the venture would define his business. The £1billion gamble was part of a £2.5billion investment into new technologies including artificial intelligence and batteries. The was launched in 2017 to a fanfare with promises of a ‘radically different’ design, and the company later filed patents showing the potential shape of the vehicle.
But established carmakers, such as Volkswagen, and electric specialists Tesla have raced ahead in what has become a fiercely competitive market.
Sir James had hoped the company’s expertise in battery systems and high-tech manufacturing would give it an edge. He yesterday wrote in an email to staff: ‘Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.
‘We have been through a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far.’
He added: ‘I wanted you to hear directly from me that the Dyson Board has therefore taken the very difficult decision to propose the closure of our automotive project.’
Sir James said moves were under way to find new roles within Dyson for ‘most of’ the project’s employees, 500 of whom are in the UK. Developproject ment was taking place at Dyson’s Hullavington campus in Wiltshire – a former RAF base.
The car would have been made in Singapore, where the company chose to move its headquarters.
Sir James was criticised for the decision, having been a prominent name in voicing the business case for Brexit.
The company said it chose the new location because its customers and factories were in the region, and it had nothing to do with Brexit or the company’s tax arrangements.
Dyson’s only other commercial failure was its washing machine, which used two counter-rotating drums to mimic handwashing. It was pulled in 2005. The company now has 4,500 UK employees out of 14,000 globally.