Vacuum cleaner magnate James Dyson announced that he is abandoning his attempt to enter the electric car market.
- Best known for its bagless vacuums and other high-cost appliances, Dyson was prepared to invest $2.7 billion in its EV project
- Patent renderings that leaked out earlier this year suggested the first model would be a three-row crossover
- The company had planned to build its battery-cars at a new plant in Singapore
To put it bluntly, the chance of making money building battery-cars really sucks, or so British entrepreneur James Dyson, best known for his bagless vacuum cleaners, has determined.
His company, Dyson Ltd., pulled the plug on a $2.7 billion effort to build electric vehicles, the company founder advising employees by e-mail that he “can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”
James Dyson demonstrating “The Ball” vacuum at a recent product launch. (Photo: Getty Images)
Vacuuming up product lines
The company cracked open a number of established markets with unusual designs for vacuums, fans and hand dryers. It first signaled interest in building EVs with the 2015 purchase of Sakti3, a University of Michigan spin-off developing next-generation solid-state batteries. Though Dyson eventually wrote off most of the costs of that acquisition, it confirmed interest in moving forward on an electric vehicle program, hiring a development team of about 600.
Patent renderings leaked out last May suggested the first vehicle would be a three-row crossover, with other models to follow. In an unusual step, Dyson was setting up a factory in Singapore, a city/state better known for its electronics industry. The move was expected to give the company easy access to the booming Chinese EV market, though sales in the U.S. and Europe were also anticipated.
“This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team,” said James Dyson in his e-mail, adding, “Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project.” But there was simply no clear path to profitability, he said.
Dyson joins a long list of EV-wanabes, including Bright Automotive and AMP, which have failed to get to market, while the future is uncertain for others, such as Faraday Future.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Electric vehicles are expected to become a growing part of the market over the coming decade, but high costs and the slow ramp-up of sales limits the number of start-ups which will challenge the established automotive order.