British technology firm Dyson is well-known for its futuristic home appliances: bladeless fans, cordless vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and most recently, hair driers and curlers. One common theme runs through its series of blockbuster devices – digital motors that deliver more power despite being lighter and more compact than conventional motors.
These motors, few would expect, are made in Singapore – in a Dyson motor production plant in Tuas West Park. With a presence in the country dating from 2007, the company has been ramping up its assets and investments in the country: the brand increasing the size of its Tuas plant and in 2017 announcing a S$587 million development in Science Park.
In addition, Dyson has also recently announced their intention to move its corporate head office to Singapore, with the intent to reflect “the increasing importance of Asia” to the company.
There’s plenty of other reasons why Singapore might present an advantage for the company. First, the island’s close proximity to Dyson’s main global factory in Malaysia. Second, strong institutions and competitive legal infrastructure safeguards to protect its technological and design edge over its competition. Third, mounting pressure to move operations from Britain with the effects of Brexit restricting growth opportunities. Lastly, with the burgeoning markets in Asia, in particular for tech appliances and electric vehicles has proven irresistible for the British giant.
Just last year, the company announced its first car manufacturing plant in Singapore, part of a £2.5 billion (S$4.46 billion) investment in research and development of new technologies. Most recently, the company has also just announced Singapore as host to its new corporate head office, having just made the £1 billion per year annual profit mark.
While domestic woes in the company’s home nation of Britain pertaining to the exit of a key industry player from its shores are mounting, Singapore prepares to play host to the two-storey car manufacturing plant to be completed in 2020 with the first vehicles launched a year thereafter in 2021. Dyson indicates that it will similarly expand R&D operations in Britain, with new laboratories in Malmesbury, Hullavington, London and Bristol.
Dyson, which already employs about 1,100 workers in Singapore at its Science Park and Tuas West Park plants, acknowledges the relatively high cost base in Singapore, but attributes its decision to base its operations in the country to its existing assets in the country, along with the local manufacturing expertise.
Founder Sir James Dyson, who owns 100% of the firm that grossed £4.4 billion in annual turnover last year will “divide his time between Singapore and the UK”, to oversee the prototype vehicle slated for 2020 and the team of 5,853 involved in its research and development projects.