It has been a little over a year since Dyson announced it was investing $150 million to turn an old RAF airfield into a state of the art development center that would focus on building an electric car. Owner James Dyson told GQ magazine last year, “Yes, I just thought we ought to be making a car, as simple as that. One gets passionate about it because of technology. You realize what the technology could do. With motors, if you can magically change the technology, you can magically change a product.”
Subsequently, Dyson announced that it would locate its electric car factory in Singapore, where labor rates are significantly lower than in the UK. There might even be a whole lineup of electric cars, the company hinted.
But now the electric car dream has turned to ashes. According to The Verge, a company-wide email went out to all Dyson employees on October 10th notifying them that James Dyson and his board of directors have decided to stop the program after unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer. Going forward, Dyson says his company will “concentrate on the formidable task of manufacturing solid-state batteries” as well as other “fundamental” technologies like vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and AI.
“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,” the email said.
“This is a challenging time for our colleagues and I appreciate your understanding and sensitivity as we consult with those who are affected,” Dyson wrote. “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.” Here is a link to the full email.
Up to 600 people were involved in the electric car project, which was first announced in 2017. Dyson’s email said the company is “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.”
The email is all very polite but it doesn’t offer many details about the decision to abandon the electric car effort. Perhaps someday we will learn more about the Dyson electric car that almost was but now never will be.
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