DYSON has decided to manufacture its new electric cars in Singapore, ending hopes for a site in Britain.
The firm confirmed to staff today that its board had ratified the decision to construct its first ‘advanced automotive manufacturing’ facility in the Asian country.
The factory is scheduled for completion in 2020 and is part of a £2.5 billion global investment drive in new technology.
Dyson is aiming to launch its electric vehicles in 2021.
However, the move could prove controversial given that Sir James Dyson, the company’s billionaire chairman and founder, is an outspoken proponent of Brexit.
It also comes at a sensitive time for Britain’s manufacturing sector, with several car makers including Nissan, Ford and Toyota warning about the rising prospects of a ‘no-deal’ EU exit, which would jeopardise their operations in the UK.
The technology tycoon took heavy fire following the announcement, with former business secretary and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable laying into him.
‘It’s strange Brexiteer James Dyson has so little faith in the prospect of the UK leaving the EU that he is manufacturing his electric cars in Asia.
‘It’s not as if Singapore is even a low-cost location, but this is a sign of the spectre that Brexit has cast over the UK’s business environment,’ he said.
Labour MP Wes Streeting also took to social media to criticise Sir James. He said on Twitter: ‘James Dyson wants British taxpayers to subsidise his agriculture business. But he is planning to manufacture his electric car in Singapore. There’s still a word for this…’
Dyson chief executive Jim Rowan said: ‘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.
‘Our existing footprint and team in Singapore, combined with the nation’s significant advanced manufacturing expertise, made it a front-runner.
‘Singapore also offers access to high-growth markets as well as an extensive supply chain and a highly skilled workforce.’
He added: ‘Singapore has a comparatively high cost base but also great 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.’
The firm was keen to stress its commitment to Britain, pointing out that it was investing £200 million in new buildings and testing facilities at its campus at Hullavington Airfield.
The company bought the disused airfield two years ago and has already renovated two hangars at the 517-acre site.
Dyson employs more than 12,000 people across the world, with 4,800 working in the UK.
The company, best known for its vacuum cleaners and other domestic appliances, revealed last year that it had been working on developing an electric vehicle.