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FinanceInnovationNews

Vacuum cleaner mogul ditches electric car project

British billionaire James Dyson has abandoned his dream of building an electric car.

James Dyson, the British billionaire who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner, is abandoning his dream of building an electric car, according to an announcement he posted to the company website.

On October 10, Dyson said that while his automotive team had built a “fantastic car” the project had ultimately been unsuccessful.

“Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable,” he said.

The electric car initiative, which critics derided as a vanity project, dates back to 2016, when Dyson announced plans to manufacture what he billed as a “radical and different” electric vehicle, at a new plant in Singapore.

The initiative would invest £2.5 billion ($3.11 billion) in technologies including a battery-powered vehicle, with the first models slated for production in 2021.

Those plans have been scrapped. In the blog post, Dyson said he had tried, unsuccessfully, to sell the division, which employs 523 – 500 in the U.K. 

The company will continue investing “in the formidable task of manufacturing solid state batteries and other fundamental technologies which we have identified: sensing technologies, vision systems, robotics, machine learning.”

Dyson is not the first to be felled by the economics of the clean fuel transition. Although electric car sales are booming, manufacturers have yet to reap the rewards. The financial trials and tribulations of Tesla, perhaps the closest analogy to the Dyson project, have been well-documented. 

And while the major auto and truck companies are spending billions of dollars on the shift from combustion to electric propulsion, they have their eye on the future, when the market transition to clean fuel transportation is much further along.

Dyson started Dyson Ltd in 1991. The company designs and manufactures household appliances such as vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, fans and lights. He is best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum, which works on the principle of cyclonic separation

In January 2019, Dyson announced it would move its headquarters to Singapore to ramp up manufacturing for the electric vehicle. James Dyson, one of the most prominent business supporters of Brexit, had also chafed against European Union regulations.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.

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