Dyson has abandoned plans to build electric cars, saying its $3 billion project–aimed at taking on the biggest names in the automotive industry–is not commercially viable.
The maker of vacuums and hand dryers said Thursday that while its engineers had produced a “fantastic” vehicle, the effort would be wound down. The company said it had not been able to find a buyer for the project.
“Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable,” James Dyson, the company’s billionaire founder, wrote in a note to employees.
Dyson announced in 2017 that his company was joining the global race to electric vehicles that pits the biggest established carmakers against specialists such as Tesla.
A year ago, the company said that it was planning to build the cars at a new factory in Singapore that would have been operational by 2020. Some £2.5 billion ($3 billion) was committed to the project.
The project was a source of curiosity among automotive analysts and industry veterans, some of whom questioned whether a company with substantial engineering experience — but none with cars — could compete.
The world’s largest carmakers are now focused on developing electric cars, and they are deploying huge amounts of capital to tackle engineering problems posed by the new technology.
Dyson had not released many details about the electric vehicle it was hoping to develop, while claiming it had significant potential. “What we’re doing is quite radical,” Dyson told GQ in 2018.
“Since day one we have taken risks and dared to challenge the status quo with new products and technologies. Such an approach drives progress, but has never been an easy journey,” Dyson told staffers on Thursday.
“This is not the first project which has changed direction and it will not be the last,” he added. Dyson said that the company would continue its efforts to develop solid state batteries and other technology.
Some of the hundreds of workers from the car project would be hired into other positions, Dyson said. Those who cannot find alternative roles would be supported fairly, he said.
The prominent Brexit supporter was criticized earlier this year when he chose to relocate Dyson’s headquarters from the United Kingdom to Singapore to be closer to its customers and manufacturing base.