Dyson just killed its ‘ingenious’ electric car. Read the CEO’s email to staff explaining why

“This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team,” he said.
The New Paper
  • In 2017, British electronics maker Dyson announced plans for an electric car.

  • Last year, it said the car would be made at a plant in Singapore, where it is currently headquartered.

  • On Thursday (Oct 10), CEO Sir James Dyson told staff in a company-wide email that the automotive division would be shut down.

  • “We have tried very hard… (but) simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable,” he said. “I wanted you to hear (this) directly from me.”

Despite unveiling its plans for a Singapore-made electric car to great fanfare last year, British electronics company Dyson has abruptly cancelled the project, despite already filing a patent, hiring staff, and promising a 2021 launch.

CEO James Dyson announced plans to close the firm’s entire automotive division in a company-wide email on Thursday (Oct 10).

Calling the car’s design “fantastic” and “ingenious”, Dyson said the project was unfortunately not commercially viable, and no buyers wanted to take over.

He added that staff would be mainly redeployed to the household products division.

A spokesman from Singapore’s Economic Development Board said the car project was cancelled “at an early stage”, and would not result in major disruptions to its operations or workforce here.

In a statement, the company said its commitment to the Republic was “as strong as ever”, and that the Singapore Government understood its decision. It also hinted at an “ambitious” expansion of its research, operations and commercial teams here.

Here’s the full email James Dyson sent to employees on Thursday:


Dear Colleagues.

The Dyson Automotive team has 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 can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable. We have 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.

This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest. Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project. We are working to quickly find alternative roles within Dyson for as many of the team as possible and we have sufficient vacancies to absorb most of the people into our 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.

Dyson will continue its £2.5bn investment program into new technology and grow The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology. We will continue to expand at Malmesbury, Hullavington, 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. Our battery will benefit Dyson in a profound way and take us in exciting new directions. In summary, our investment appetite is undiminished and we will continue to deepen our roots in both the UK and Singapore.

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 – the route to success is never linear. This is not the first project which has changed direction and it will not be the last. I remain as excited about the future of Dyson as I have always been; our ambitions have never been higher, our ability to invest has never been greater, and the team has never been stronger.

I am looking forward to our future adventures together.

Best wishes,

James.


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