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James Dyson has cancelled his ambitious project to build an electric car, the centrepiece of a 2.5-billion-pound (US$3.1-billion) investment in technology, saying he could not see a way to make it commercially viable.

Dyson said his engineers had built a “fantastic car” and that the project was not being closed due to any failures in research and development.

“However, though we have tried very hard throughout the development process, we simply can no longer see a way to make it commercially viable,” he said in an e-mail to staff.

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The company had tried to find a buyer for the project but had not succeeded, he said.

Dyson, billionaire inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, announced the project two years ago, building on the company’s expertise in batteries and electric motors to developing a vehicle.

Singapore was selected a year ago as the location for a new plant to build the vehicle, which was targeted at markets in China and elsewhere in Asia.

The company had previously said it would build a new two-storey manufacturing facility in the city state, scheduled for completion in 2020, with the first cars rolling off production lines a year later.

Some 500 engineers were working on the project, mostly based at its site in Malmesbury and Hullavington in southwest England.

Dyson said the company was working to find alternative roles for as many of them as possible in its home business, which makes air purifiers, fans and hair dryers as well as cleaners.

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