Dyson chooses Singapore to build new electric auto

Dyson says the decision to build cars in Singapore reflects the realities of its supply chain and ease of access to high growth markets. Pic Dyson

The factory is set for completion in 2020, and follows on from the announcement earlier this year of £200 million ($367 million) investment in new buildings and test facilities at the Dyson's campus in the United Kingdom.

Until now, the company is best known for making vacuum cleaners, hand dryers and hairdryers, but in 2017 revealed it had starting working on an electric vehicle. "It is therefore the right place to make high quality technology loaded machines, and the right place to make our electric vehicle".

British electric appliance pioneer Dyson said Tuesday it had picked Singapore as the site for its first electric auto plant, sparking criticism of the company's Brexit-backing billionaire founder for not investing more in British manufacturing.

Electric vehicles are increasing in popularity as governments worldwide drive forward plans to gradually phase out polluting petrol and diesel cars.

Dyson, of course, is no stranger to building its products in Singapore, having opened a factory in Tuas in 2013 to produce its digital motors - its term for permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors, which many electric vehicles now use - in its vacuum cleaners and hairdryers.

However, in the memo to staff, Rowan said the decision to choose Singapore was "complex, based on supply chains, access to markets, and the availability of the expertise that will help us achieve our ambitions". Apparently the United Kingdom had been mooted as a factory location, but Dyson went with Singapore because it's already a company manufacturing hotspot and it's closer to "customers and production hubs".

But the city state has trade agreements with China and Japan and Dyson CEO Rowan said the comparatively high cost base would be offset by its technology expertise and focus.

Dyson will manufacture its electric cars in Singapore.

In a Facebook post later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore's engineers must "rise to the challenge" and "prove themselves equal to the best in the world".

The company said that its 2017 operating profit surged by nearly one third to around £800 million (S$1.4 billion), aided by fast growth in China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

The UK technology firm, founded by the Brexit-supporting entrepreneur and inventor Sir James Dyson, said its decision reflected the worldwide nature of its business including its supply chain despite high operating costs.

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