Although electrical appliance giant Dyson has decided to withdraw its plans to build electric vehicles here, other companies have shown interest in developing smart mobility solutions in Singapore.
These firms value Singapore's highly skilled workforce, strengths in advanced technologies in fields such as robotics and automation, and strong intellectual property (IP) protection regime, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat in a parliamentary reply yesterday, adding that the ministry will continue to work with these companies.
Mr Chee was responding to a question from Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) on the impact of Dyson cancelling plans to build electric vehicles in Singapore. Mr Liang had also asked if there are opportunities to develop the electric vehicle business here.
Dyson, which is known for its vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans, announced on Oct 10 that it was scrapping its £2.5 billion (S$4.4 billion) project to build electric cars, which had included the setting up of an electric car plant in Singapore by 2021.
Addressing a further question from Mr Liang on whether Dyson's decision to scrap its project was due to a lack of capabilities on Singapore's part, Mr Chee said that was not the case. He added that the British company had decided that the electric car project was not commercially viable for it.
Singapore has strengths in advanced manufacturing, and people see the Republic as a place where they can do research and development, he noted.
Number of Dyson employees in Singapore.
Number of Dyson employees in Singapore who work in the electric vehicle business.
"This ecosystem is what we're trying to grow - whether it's for manufacturing of (electric vehicles), high-end equipment, precision engineering, bio-or med-tech equipment," Mr Chee said.
He highlighted that these are areas where Singapore, with its trusted brand name and skilled workforce, is well-equipped to play a role.
Replying to a question from Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) on whether incentives tied to Dyson's projects will be honoured, Mr Chee said the incentives that were tied to the electric vehicle project will not be given as the project has not taken place and investments have not been made.
The ministry will look into the incentives related to Dyson's other projects separately, he added.
Mr Chee said that Dyson's scrapped electric vehicle plans will not affect its presence and operations here.
Only 20 of its 1,200 employees in Singapore work in the electric vehicle business, and these employees will be redeployed within the organisation.
Mr Chee noted that Dyson will continue to grow its core business in Singapore, including battery technology for consumer products and research and development in areas such as sensors and artificial intelligence.
A spokesman for Dyson told The Straits Times last month that the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Britain to Singapore was completed in May.