James Dyson, who is the billionaire British inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, has opted to build his electric car in Singapore to be close to Asian customers, highly skilled workforce, and supply chains.
Dyson, who is 71 years old and an entrepreneur who backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum, already manufactures goods such as hair dryers, air purification systems, and bladeless fans in Asia. Meanwhile, the company’s research and development remains in Britain.
Dyson stated last year that a 400-strong, British based engineering team had been secretly working for more than two years on a $2.6 billion project to build an electric car.
The company is one of Britain’s largest manufacturing success stories. It has not exhibited any designs for its electric vehicle, but James Dyson has said that it will not be like anything else on the market and will not be a “very cheap” vehicle.
Dyson is not working with established car companies on the project. He had said that the vehicle would be made close to suppliers and its potential biggest markets, namely in Asia.
“The decision of where to make our car is complex, based on supply chains, access to markets, and the availability of the expertise that will help us achieve our ambitions,” said Dyson Chief Executive Jim Rowan after Singapore was selected on Tuesday.
Dyson already employs 1,100 people making 21 million digital electric motors every year in Singapore.
It said it would build a new two-storey manufacturing facility within the city state and it is scheduled for completion in 2020, with the first cars rolling off production lines one year later.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore use to assemble cars until the 1980s. “Now we will manufacture cars again, except this time greener, better, and more high tech!”
Carmakers are stepping up their investments in electric vehicles in response to ever-tightening emissions restrictions and penalties on the use of internal combustion engines, with some countries already promising outright bans.
Dyson is aiming to exploit its ability in solid-state battery technology and electric motors that are found in its innovative vacuum clears and other goods.
Last year, James Dyson told reporters that his ambition to take on the car makers was triggered when the industry ditched his idea to use the cyclonic technology that revolutionized vacuum cleaners to clean diesel exhaust emissions in the 1990s.
The inventor was a prominent backer of Britain’s vote to pull out of the European Union and has argued that Britain’s future lies in fostering close ties with fast-growing markets in Asia instead of in Europe.
Singapore is a densely populated city-state and one of the world’s most expensive places to own a car. The city-state controls vehicle population through a system of bidding for the right to own for a limited number of years. Elon Musk, who is the chief executive of Tesla, criticized Singapore for not being supportive of electric vehicle earlier this year.
However, the city-state has also made agreements with China and Japan. Dyson CEO Rowan said that the comparatively high cost base would be offset by its technology expertise and focus.
“It is therefore the right place to make high-quality technology loaded machines, and the right place to make our electric vehicle,” he stated.