Dyson ends its electric car project

Kris Holt
Contributing Writer
Dyson

Dyson is shutting down its electric car project. The company said while its automotive team had created a "fantastic" EV, the car was not "commercially viable." It will continue to work on the solid-state battery tech it developed for the EV, however.

In an email to Dyson employees obtained by the BBC, founder Sir James Dyson said his company has tried to find a buyer for the project without success. In scrapping the division, Dyson is shutting down its EV facilities in the UK and Singapore.

Dyson announced the project in 2017 and around a year ago, it unveiled plans for an EV factory in Singapore. It was supposed to have been finished in 2020, with production scheduled to start the following year.

The company said it would spend £200 million ($247 million) on test tracks and research and development in the UK. Dyson has already spent most of that budget, and said it would use the site for other projects. In 2016, Dyson received a £16 million ($19.8 million) UK government grant towards R&D on the battery tech.

The first cars had already been made and were in testing. The company will try to find other roles for the project's 523 employees in its home division, which makes products including hairdryers, fans and vacuum cleaners. Engadget has contacted Dyson for comment.

It's not the first time Dyson has killed off an unprofitable project. In 2005, it stopped selling its Contrarotator laundry machine.

Here's the full email to employees:

The Dyson Automotive team have 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 cannot 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. 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.

This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest. Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project. We are working to quickly find alternative roles within Dyson for as many of the team as possible and we have sufficient vacancies to absorb most of the people into our Home business. For those who cannot, or do not wish to, find alternative roles, we will support them fairly and with the respect deserved. This is a challenging time for our colleagues and I appreciate your understanding and sensitivity as we consult with those who are affected.

Dyson will continue its £2.5bn investment program into new technology and grow our wonderful new University. We will continue to expand at Malmesbury, Hullavington, Singapore and other global locations. We will also concentrate on the formidable task of manufacturing solid state batteries and other fundamental technologies which we have identified: sensing technologies, vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and AI offer us significant opportunities which we must grab with both hands. Our battery will benefit Dyson in a profound way and take us in exciting new directions. In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore.

Since day one we have taken risks and dared to challenge the status quo with new products and technologies. Such an approach drives progress, but has never been an easy journey – the route to success is never linear. This is not the first project which has changed direction and it will not be the last. I remain as excited about the future of Dyson as I have always been; our ambitions have never been higher, our ability to invest has never been greater, and the team has never been stronger.

I am looking forward to our future adventures together.