LONDON: British technology company Dyson said on Tuesday (Oct 23) it would build its electric car in Singapore, with a new automotive manufacturing facility set for completion in 2020 ahead of the first vehicle launch a year later.
The electric car plant is part of Dyson's £2.5 billion (US$3.3 billion) global investment drive in new technology.
Dyson, founded by the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner James Dyson, announced its plans to build an electric car a little over a year ago - a sector in which the company will face stiff competition from established players.
The 71-year-old entrepreneur is looking to exploit his company's expertise in solid-state battery technology and electric motors that are found in his innovative vacuum cleaners and other products like bladeless fans and air purifiers.
Electric vehicles are increasing in popularity as governments worldwide drive forward plans to gradually phase out polluting petrol and diesel cars.
It is designing the technology and building a test track in Wiltshire, western England, but said the decision to make the car in Singapore reflected the international nature of its operations.
Dyson already employs around 1,100 people in Singapore at its new Singapore Technology Centre at Science Park One and its Advanced Manufacturing Centre at West Park where it makes electric motors.
The company, best known for its cordless vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and fans, said Singapore offered access to high-growth markets, an extensive supply chain and a highly skilled workforce.
Dyson Chief Executive Jim Rowan said: "The decision of where to make our car is complex, based on supply chains, 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."
Rowan added that Dyson's existing footprint in Singapore, combined with Singapore's significant advanced manufacturing expertise, made it a frontrunner.
"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," he said.
Dyson told AFP in an interview earlier this year that electric cars were already available to order.
The company said that its 2017 operating profit surged by almost one third to around £800 million (S$1.4 billion), aided by fast growth in China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Revenues leapt 40 per cent to £3.5 billion.
"OUR ENGINEERS MUST RISE TO THE CHALLENGE"
In a Facebook post later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore's engineers must "rise to the challenge" and "prove themselves equal to the best in the world".
"When I met Sir James Dyson last month, he told me that our expertise in advanced manufacturing, global and regional connectivity, and the quality of our research scientists and engineers, all influenced Dyson’s decision," said the prime minister. "I was also delighted to hear that his company is working with our schools to inspire and mentor future generations of Singaporean engineers."
Separately, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said in a Facebook post that the company's decision "testifies to Singapore’s attractiveness as a base for investments in innovation".