Parliament: Dyson's decision to scrap project not due to lack of capabilities on S'pore's part, says Chee Hong Tat

A Shared Computer-Operated Transport being tested on the road in University Town, NUS, on Oct 24, 2019. British manufacturer Dyson said on Oct 10 it is closing its automotive division, as the company's electric car is not commercially viable.
A Shared Computer-Operated Transport being tested on the road in University Town, NUS, on Oct 24, 2019. British manufacturer Dyson said on Oct 10 it is closing its automotive division, as the company's electric car is not commercially viable.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Although electrical appliance giant Dyson has decided to withdraw its plans to build electric vehicles here, other companies have expressed interest in developing smart mobility solutions in Singapore, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 5).

These firms value Singapore's highly skilled workforce, strengths in advanced technologies in fields such as robotics and automation, and strong intellectual property protection regime, he noted, 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$4.3 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.

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 that the incentives that were tied to the electric vehicle project will not be given.

The ministry will look into the incentives related to Dyson's other projects separately, he added.

Mr Chee added that Dyson's scrapped electric vehicle plans will not affect its presence and operations here, and only 20 of its 1,200 employees in Singapore work in the electric vehicle business.

He said 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.