Vacuum cleaner maker Dyson has scrapped plans to build an electric vehicle, highlighting the difficulties non-automotive companies face when they want to build a car.



Source: Dyson

Dyson, best known for its vacuum cleaners, saw potential synergies between its core business and electric vehicles

In a statement posted on the company’s website, founder James Dyson said that ”the Dyson Board has taken the very difficult decision to propose the closure of our automotive project.”

The company had failed to make the project “commercially viable”, the statement explained, and attempts to find a buyer had proven unsuccessful. 

Dyson announced its plans for an electric vehicle in 2017 amid growing expectations that electric motors would soon start replacing internal combustion engines as the main powertrain for passenger cars.

Because electric motors are much less complex than traditional engines, many non-automotive companies are seeing opportunities to enter the mobility space.

James Dyson, in announcing his plans in 2017, said his EV plans were part of his continuing ambition to find a solution to curb global air pollution.

He cited as examples of expertise that could be used for an EV, his company’s development of digital motors and energy storage systems used, for example, in its hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. Dyson also uses novel fluid dynamics and air conditioning technologies in its fans, heaters and purifiers.

“At this moment, we finally have the opportunity to bring all our technologies together into a single product,” Dyson wrote in a 2017 email announcing the plan.

Despite killing the project, Dyson this week praised the “immense” achievements of the automotive team and stressed that the decision was not a result of “product failure or failure of the team.” 

The statement confirmed that the company will continue in its £2.5bn investment program into new technology: “We will 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.”

Dyson had announced plans last year to make its first electric car at a new plant in Singapore. The plant was expected to be completed in 2020, with the EV hitting the market in 2021. Dyson said it would spend £1 billion ($1.4 bn) on developing the car and another billion to develop solid-state batteries. It bought the US-based solid-state battery company Sakti3 for $90m back in 2015.

Dyson already has a strong manufacturing base and supply chain in Singapore. It moved production of its vacuum cleaners from the UK to the Asian city state back in 2003, where it also operates R&D facilities and tests electric motors.