Dyson’s electric car dream hits dead end with project scrapped

11 Oct 2019

James Dyson. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Dyson’s dream of replicating the success of its vacuum cleaners in the electric car business has failed to materialise.

James Dyson has announced that a project to build electric cars has been scrapped. The inventor, best known for his vacuum cleaners, said engineers had developed a “fantastic electric car” but it was not commercially viable.

In an email to workers, Dyson said the company had unsuccessfully tried to find a buyer for the project, launched in 2017. He said the achievements of the engineering team had been “immense”, given the enormity and complexity of the project.

“The Dyson automotive 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.

“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.”

New Dyson campus at Hullavington airfield on a sunny day.

Dyson’s new campus at at Hullavington Airfield in Wiltshire. Image: Fred MacGregor/PA

Major shake-up

Dyson said moves were under way to quickly find alternative roles within the company for as many of the hundreds of employees on the project as possible. There were enough vacancies to absorb most of the employees into Dyson’s business, he said.

“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 programme into new technology and grow the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology.”

Sites including Malmesbury in Wiltshire and Singapore will be expanded and the company will concentrate on the “formidable task” of manufacturing solid state batteries and other technologies.

“In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore,” he added.

Around 520 people were in the Dyson automotive team, mainly based in the UK. Development was taking place at Dyson’s Hullavington campus in Wiltshire, although the company has not publicised a prototype.

– PA Media