Dyson cancels electric vehicle plans

11 October 2019

11 October 2019

British technology company Dyson has scrapped plans to develop an electric vehicle (EV), suggesting the project is ′no longer commercially viable.’

The business, known for its range of vacuum cleaners, decided to jump into the emerging EV market in 2017. However, in an email sent to employees, inventor Sir James Dyson said while engineers had developed a ′fantastic car’ it would not be taking to the roads.

A buyer had been sought for the project but this had not been successful, he added. The division employed 523 people.

Investment sums

Dyson had planned to invest more than £2 billion (€2.3 billion) in developing its electric vehicle and stated at the time of launch that it would not be aimed at the mass market. It was spending half the funds on the car, while the other half was to go on developing solid-state batteries, a technology which is expected to help boost the EV market.

It had already announced plans to transform the former Hullavington Airfield in the UK into its test and development facility, while production was due to start in Singapore in 2021. To further its intentions, Dyson hired former BMW and Infiniti executive Roland Krueger to head up the division.

Engineers had already developed the vehicle, and it was undergoing tests before news of the cancellation. It is not known if the company is seeking buyers for components of the business.

′This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest,’ Dyson added in the email. ′We have tried very hard throughout the development process; we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.’

′The Dyson automotive team has developed a fantastic car; they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies.’

The business will continue its battery development, which would enable it to work with larger manufacturers and suppliers. ′Our battery will benefit Dyson in a profound way and take us in exciting new directions,’ Dyson wrote.

Tough market

When Dyson announced its EV project, it did so at a time when other ′outside’ businesses considered launching similar plans. However, with bigger carmakers, who can afford to spend the vast sums needed on the development of the technology, entering the market, it was always going to be difficult for a niche brand to compete.

While investment is increasing, sales of electric vehicles remain low even as buyers switch from diesel cars – predominantly to petrol models. EVs are seen as a technology that is still developing and is therefore not suitable for many drivers as they remain concerned about charging times and range.