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Asia Minute: Billionaire Inventor Shifts Strategy In Singapore

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One of the world’s richest inventors has dropped an ambitious plan for high-technology manufacturing in Southeast Asia. The decision means a shift for a well-known company and a leading regional economy. 

James Dyson is cancelling plans to build an electric car factory in Singapore.

That surprise news broke Thursday night in Asia—with an announcement from the man known for redesigning consumer products from vacuum cleaners to electric fans.

Dyson sent an email to employees, saying that despite putting a lot of time and effort into the development process, quote, “we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable.”

It was two years ago that the inventor announced plans to invest some 2 and a half billion U-S dollars into a project to develop three electric car models from scratch—half of that for the cars and half of that for the battery technology.

Dyson had already been developing solid state batteries.

The company had planned to open an electric car factory in 2021—Singapore’s Economic Development Board says the impact on the country will be minimal since the cancellation comes at a relatively early stage of development.

Earlier this year, Dyson switched its corporate headquarters from the United Kingdom to Singapore---and the company says it plans to increase its presence there—just not with electric cars.

The firm says it will continue its concentration on batteries--as well as other areas including sensing technology, robotics and artificial intelligence. 

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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