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Dyson axes £2bn electric vehicle (EV) plan

Dyson's new base

Vacuum giant Dyson has called time on its £2 billion project to market an electric vehicle (EV) after concluding that sales of its “fantastic electric car” would not be economically viable.

The BBC reported yesterday (October 11) that the firm, headed by British inventor Sir James Dyson, had failed in its attempts to find a buyer for its project which has already yielded a battery-powered vehicle.

In October last year the firm revealed plans to build the car at a new plant in Singapore and production was expected to get underway in 2021.

But in an email to the firm’s employees Sir James said that it the vehicle would not reach production as it was not "commercially viable".

Sir James revealed that Dyson was closing electric car facilities both in the UK and Singapore, operations which employed a combined workforce of 523.

Former Hyundai Motor UK chairman and chief executive, Tony Whitehorn, did not mince his words when he spelled out the barriers to producing EVs during the Vision of the Future seminar at Automotive Management Live 2018.

Addressing the challenges faced by manufacturers in making alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), Whitehorn said at the time that Hyundai continued to pursue its development of both pure EV (Ioniq and Kona) and hydrogen fuel cell (ix35 and Nexo) vehicles.

But he added: “It is hugely, hugely expensive to get into vehicle technology where you are not making any money today. They are a big, big loss leader.”

In its report on Dyson’s failure to make its EV plans commercially viable, the BBC acknowledged that, while major manufacturers like Volkswagen can afford to plough tens of billions into the EV industry on the basis that economies of scale will ultimately make the technology cheaper and generate returns, it would prove a more challenging prospect for a new market entrant with no automotive expertise.

The collapse of Dyson’s plans brings and end to the planned investment in a £200m UK test track facility for its mobility division.

Commenting on Dyson’s decision, Carwow trading analyst, Charles Butler, said: “It’s a shame that Dyson is pulling out of electric car development as there was a lot of hype around it, particularly as a British product.

“Dyson are known for approaching design challenges differently so this had the potential to shake up the industry and offer some true innovation beyond what traditional manufacturers who weren’t starting with a clean sheet of paper could imagine.

“This shows just how tough it is to build good cars at an affordable price, the market for electric is hotting up and clearly Dyson didn’t think it was fit for the fight.”

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