Dyson Failed to Make its Electric Car, and Paid £8 Million Back to the Government

By Tom Pritchard on at

A few years back Dyson was adamant that it was making an electric car (or three), which is a bit of an odd side project for a company known for making expensive vacuum cleaners and overpriced fans. Then suddenly Dyson decided that it wasn't going to make an electric car anymore, because making a profit on cars is hard. I guess that's because you need to have been selling cars for years to have that figured out.

But it turned out the government was given grant funding by the government, as part of a the 2016 National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, and walked away with a £7.8 million government grant. So what happened when the electric car project got scrapped? Apparently Dyson gave the money back.

The point of the grant was to help facilitate an engineering boom in Wiltshire that the government expected would "secure £174m of investment in the area, creating over 500 jobs, mostly in engineering". Naturally that never happened because Dyson then decided to move manufacturing to Singapore, before shifting his entire company there as well - in spite of him singing praises for Brexit and the "opportunity" there was in the uncertain outcome.

But the project was designed to do something different, and Dyson himself claimed there was no point in doing what all the other electric car companies were doing. Which is probably why the company couldn't make any money from the thing - no matter how many grants it got and how many billions it funnelled into the project.

The Telegraph claims the company may have been entitled to keep some of the money under the initial terms, but Dyson decided to pay it all back. The Department of Business confirmed to the paper that “the funding support has been repaid in full”, while a Dyson spokesperson claimed that “When [its] automotive project closed, [it] contacted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and repaid the money.”

Who knows why it was so happy to hand it all back. Maybe Mr Dyson was feeling generous, or perhaps he anticipated a backlash for being given government money and doing the exact opposite of what he said he'd do with it.

Was there any interest involved, though? That's what I want to know. [The Telegraph]