SINGAPORE: British technology company Dyson, best known for its hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, said on Thursday (Oct 10) it is shutting down its automotive division.
The company, headed by billionaire entrepreneur James Dyson, said its team had developed a "fantastic" electric car, but that it was not commercially viable.
"Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable," said Mr Dyson in an e-mail to employees.
"We have been through a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far," he said.
Dyson’s global automotive team comprises 523 people.
The company is working to "quickly find alternative roles within Dyson for as many of the team as possible", he said, adding the company had sufficient vacancies to absorb "most of the people into our home business".
The car was expected to have launched in 2021, and Thursday's announcement comes just months after Mr Dyson released brief details hinting that its electric vehicle would be more energy efficient than rivals.
The firm last year unveiled plans to build an electric car plant in Singapore.
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The closure of the automotive division will affect about 20 people in Singapore, the company said in response to CNA's queries.
"About 20 people in Singapore have been affected. We are hoping to find roles for as many people as possible," it said in an email response.
"We are in a consultation process at the moment and have sufficient vacancies that we can absorb most of the people affected."
In his e-mail on Thursday, Mr Dyson said it will continue to expand in Singapore and other global locations.
"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 AI offer us significant opportunities which we must grab with both hands," he said.
"In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore."
The Economic Development Board (EBD) said the disruption to Dyson's operations in Singapore will be "minimal".
"As Dyson’s decision not to pursue the electric vehicle business was taken at an early stage, the disruption to its operations and workforce in Singapore will be minimal," said assistant managing director Tan Kong Hwee.
"We understand that Dyson has chosen to focus on growing its core home business, including new product categories, and on the development of its battery technology," he added.
"Singapore will play an important role in Dyson’s growth plans. This will lead to the creation of exciting job opportunities in its HQ, R&D and manufacturing teams, and the development of capabilities in sensor technology, vision systems, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence."