The billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson has scrapped plans to build an electric car after deciding the project was not commercially viable.
Dyson, who is one of the most prominent business figures to back Brexit, unveiled plans in 2016 to invest £2.5bn in building a “radically different” electric vehicle, which was due to roll off production lines in 2021.
But in an email to staff on Thursday, he said that while his automotive team had built a “fantastic car”, the project had ultimately been unsuccessful and efforts to find a buyer for it had fallen through.
“This is not a product failure, or a failure of the team, for whom this news will be hard to hear and digest,” Dyson said. “Their achievements have been immense – given the enormity and complexity of the project.”
He announced plans last year to invest £200m in a testing facility on a former second world war airfield at Hullavington, near the company’s facility at Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
But Dyson faced criticism for deciding to build a factory to produce the vehicle in Singapore, after moving the company’s headquarters there.
“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.,” he said on Thursday.
“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.”