Photo Credit: The Straits Times

In a shocking statement released on Thursday evening (10 October), British technology company Dyson announced that it has decided to kill its project to build electric cars.
The big project’s was supposed to have the electric car plant running in Singapore by 2021.
James Dyson, founder of the company that is famously known for its high-tech vacuum cleaners and fans, said in an e-mail to its employees that its team designed an amazing car but had to scrap the project as the electric cars were not “commercially viable”.
“The Dyson Automotive team have 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 cannot make it commercially viable,” the statement read.
Mr Dyson added that they’ve 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,” he noted.
Upon hearing this announcement, the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed in a statement that since Dyson’s decision to pull the plug for its electric car project was made at an early stage, the disruption to its operations and workforce in the Republic will be minimum.
In September 2017, the 71-year-old British entrepreneur announced that he would venture into a new industry and will be making electric car. Just over a year later, the company said that it would have its first manufacturing facility in Singapore.
Dyson Chief Executive Jim Rowan said: “The decision of where to make our car is complex, based on supply chain, access to markets, and the availability of the expertise that will help us achieve our ambitions. I am delighted to let you know that the Dyson Board has now decided that our first automotive manufacturing facility will be in Singapore.”
He continued, “Singapore has a comparatively high cost base, but also great technology expertise and focus. It is therefore the right place to make high-quality technology loaded machines, and the right place to make our electric vehicle.”
In May 2019, the company even started hiring automotive design engineers and free trade agreement specialists to fill in positions at the proposed vehicle plant. In total, there were more than 100 job vacancies under Dyson, but not all of those were for automotive roles.

“Not a product failure”

Although the electric car project did not take off, Mr Dyson insists that “this is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this will news will be hard to hear and digest”.
He also highlighted that their achievements have been great “given the enormity and complexity of the project”.
Additionally, the businessman also noted that the company is working quickly to find alternative roles within Dyson for as many employees who worked the project, and there are enough vacancies to absorb most of the people into its home business.
“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.”
According to BBC, Mr Dyson stated that the company will be closing electric car facilities both in the United Kingdom and Singapore, and the project had hired 500 employees in the UK.
The company also said that it will go ahead with its £2.5 billion investment in developing other products like battery technology.
“Dyson will continue its £2.5 billion investment program into new technology and grow our wonderful new University. We will also 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 Al offer us significant opportunities which we must grab with both hands,” Mr Dyson explained.
He continued, “In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore.”

Is Singapore still attractive for investment?

Following Mr Dyson’s initial announcement to have the electric manufacturing plant and to relocate its headquarters to Singapore, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post last year that Dyson’s decision “testifies to Singapore’s attractiveness as a base for investments in innovation”.
Separately, an article by the Straits Times also stated that analysts believe that Singapore will remain as an attractive investment destination for medium to long term, despite global uncertainties and worrying trade war.
The country has enticed S$8.1 billion in investment commitments in manufacturing and service for the first half of this year, and CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Win thinks this will continue.
“Singapore becomes even more attractive given what is happening now. It is neutral, with stable politics, and policy planners who think and execute for the long term.”
On the other hand Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin said that fixed-asset investment for the first half looks promising with commitments from technology firm like Dyson.
“Singapore could position itself to ensure that when there’s an upturn again, it can ride on it… The key is how to get companies to pull the trigger on investment plans, and make sure the country is a part of that,” he said to ST.
Despite positive remarks from Mr Chan and analysts, Dyson’s decision to put an end to its electric car project may indicate that Singapore may not be attractive after all, given the high cost to operate in the country and its stringent policies.
Even Tesla founder Elon Musk asserted that Singapore’s policies are not supportive of electric vehicles.
In a tweet responding to a netizen who asked him if he could “allow us in Singapore to get a Tesla”, Mr Musk wrote: “We tried, but (the) Singapore government is not supportive of electric vehicles.”

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

Former BCA board member under CPIB corruption probe

It has been reported that the CEO of Tiong Seng Holdings, Mr…

没戴好口罩被劝导 男子反呛:你是哪里人

在巴士上,一名男子将口罩拉到下巴处,他人劝请他将口罩戴好时,他却大声地反问,“你是哪里人?”。 有网民于10月9日在All Singapore Stuff脸书群组内,分享一段于晚上时分,在巴士上拍下的视频。视频中只见一名身穿黑衣牛仔裤的男子坐在巴士后座,将黑色的口罩拉到了下巴处,因此被他人劝导将口罩戴好。 岂知男子却反问一句,“你是哪里人?”。在听到对方回答是新加坡人时,他回应道,“新加坡人又怎样?我也是新加坡人”,最后还以粗口回应。 视频至今已经吸引了985人给出反应,434个评论。不少网民都认为巴士车长应该使用车长权力,在男子还没上巴士之前,就应该纠正对方没有戴好口罩,否则不让对方上车;甚至在男子不愿配合的时候,让对方下车。 有者则建议让巴士公司增派驻守人员,或让安全距离大使到巴士上“驻守”,确保巴士乘客都有遵守安全措施,因为有许多乘客在巴士上通电话时,都会取下口罩。

Virus mitigation measures suggested by medical practitioners implemented two months later

On 10 February, four medical practitioners in Singapore came together to sign…

GRC system: Wool Over Eyes (Part 5 of 6)

In Part 4 of a series of articles on the GRC system, Rajiv Chaudhry…