Dyson’s backtracking on Singapore’s EV plant not due to lack of capabilities
Absence of commercial viability, rather than a lack of capacity in Singapore, contributed to Dyson‘s decision to scrap his automotive division and build electric vehicles here, Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry said.
Mr Chee referred to Parliament Member Liang Eng Hwa, who inquired if there was “any shortage of unique skills or advantages” on the part of Singapore that could have led to the U-turn in the proposals for an electric vehicle plant here by the British company.
“Is it because of a lack of skills? No, “Mr Chee said.
“This is a market they thought they were going into and later decided it wouldn’t be commercially viable for the company to continue, so they stopped their efforts to go into it field.” Dyson said in October that although their group had built a “fantastic” electric car, it wasn’t commercially viable.
“Though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable,” Mr Dyson said in an October e-mail to staff.
“We have been through a serious process to find a buyer for the project which has, unfortunately, been unsuccessful so far,” he added.
Mr Chee noted on Tuesday that Singapore continues to be valued for its highly skilled workforce, the strengths of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation, a strong system of intellectual property protection that allows for R&D and a strong tripartite partnership.
“This environment is what we are trying to grow, whether it is for electric vehicle production, high-end precision manufacturing equipment, or bio-or med-tech–items that require high expertise and can produce high value,” he said in the House.
Other companies expressed interest in developing Singapore smart mobility solutions without going into details, Mr Chee added.
“We will continue to work with these businesses to seize new opportunities for Singapore, our businesses and our employees,” he said.
NO INCENTIVES FOR DYSON
As for Dyson, the company’s decision to shift gears to its electric vehicle business means that incentives for this project’ will therefore not be given.’
“I want to be clear that the project did not take place and the investments were not made, the incentives were not given,” Mr Chee said in response to MP Seah Kian Peng’s question as to whether Dyson would honour its other investment commitments.
“We’re going to look at it differently for other ventures that Dyson has already begun or is planning to expand some of their operations in Singapore,” he said.
Mr Chee said the closure of the electric vehicle business will not affect the presence and operations of Dyson in Singapore.
“Although Dyson will no longer pursue its electric vehicle business, it will continue to grow its core business in Singapore, developing battery technology for consumer products and expand R&D in areas such as sensors and robotics and artificial intelligence, which will also support the development of a smart mobility ecosystem,” he added.
The 20 workers will also be redeployed within the company from their shuttered electric vehicle department, Mr. Chee said.
Dyson has around 1,200 employees here. He said he would shift his corporate headquarters to Singapore earlier this year to “represent the increasing importance of Asia” for his company.