Dyson scraps its electric car plans

Key Points
  • Appliance maker Dyson has scrapped plans to build an electric vehicle, according to a company email.
  • Dyson had previously indicated the project would cost around $2.7 billion.
  • The British company had 523 people working on the project.
Sir James Dyson
Franziska Krug | German Select | Getty Images

British appliance maker Dyson has scrapped its plans for an electric vehicle according to a companywide email that said it "simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable."

In the email, which the company provided to CNBC, CEO James Dyson said that he and the board of directors decided to stop the project after failing to find a buyer for it.

"The Dyson automotive team has developed a fantastic car: they have been ingenious in their approach while remaining faithful to our philosophies," Dyson wrote in the email. "However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable."

The $2.7 billion originally intended for the electric car project will be spent developing other products for the privately held company, including on battery technology, Dyson said.

Dyson originally planned to unveil the electric car in 2020, but last year that was pushed back to 2021 after the company announced it would build a manufacturing plant in Singapore.

Plans for that plant have now been canceled, according to a Dyson spokesperson.

The company stressed that the cancellation of the project was not because of a lack of research and development.

"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," Dyson wrote in the email.

Previously Dyson had floated the idea of a whole lineup of vehicles with his name, with the company working on solid-state battery technology for the EV.

In 2015, Dyson underscored his commitment to the project with the purchase of Michigan-based Sakti3, a start-up that was developing a new type of battery known as solid state.

Proponents of the technology said it could offer significant advantages over the more familiar lithium-ion batteries currently in widespread use, by boosting range and reducing charge times. While suited for electric vehicles, the batteries are also effective in the cordless appliances the vacuum maker has been shifting toward.

The company said in the email that it is working to find "alternative roles" within Dyson for "as many of the team as possible" and said it had "sufficient vacancies to absorb most of the people into our Home business."

Dyson's electric car project had employed 523 people.