Dyson pulls plug on £1bn electric cars

Ty­coon says project is not eco­nom­i­cally vi­able

Daily Mail - - News - By Tom Witherow Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent t.witherow@dai­ly­mail.co.uk

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.

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