Dyson is best known as a company that makes high-end vacuum cleaners, but it’s looking to cars for the future. The company announced back in September of 2017 that it was planning to get into the electric car business, and today Dyson gave the world a peek at how it’s going to make that happen with the announcement of a new facility for making electric vehicles in Singapore, scheduled to open in 2021.
Jim Rowan, Dyson’s CEO, told company employees about the plan this morning, calling it an “advanced automotive manufacturing facility” that will help the company grow.
“Dyson is truly global in its development, delivery and realization of technology. This decision is good news for the exceptional teams we have in both the UK and Singapore. It is a fast-moving, exciting, and pivotal project for Dyson,” Rowan said, according to a news release.
The company plans to invest roughly £2 billion ($2.6 billion) on the project, most of which will be spent in Singapore. But it claims that roughly £200 million ($259 million) will be spent in the UK on test facilities and other research.
Dyson purchased the American solid-state battery company Sakti3 three years ago, but so far that investment has been a write-off. The start-up, founded at the University of Michigan, is said to have developed new batteries that provide almost double the energy density of Tesla’s Panasonic batteries. Dyson plans to utilize what it’s learned making vacuum cleaners with “switched reluctance” electric motors and apply that to cars.
But Dyson, a company based in Britain with roughly 4,800 employees there, is already getting heat for its choice of Singapore for the new plant. Rowan made his case for the Singapore location to British employees.
“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,” Rowan said. “I am delighted to let you know that the Dyson Board has now decided that our first automotive manufacturing facility will be in Singapore. We will begin construction in December and it will be completed in 2020, meeting our project timeline.”
Dyson already has roughly 1,100 employees in Singapore, and hundreds of others in Malaysia, China, and the Philippines.
“Our RDD teams at both the Singapore Technology Centre and the Advanced Manufacturing Centre have developed world-leading knowledge and represent Dyson at its best,” Rowan said. “Singapore is central to our future and we expect to more than double our team there.