The news comes after the British inventor topped the Sunday Times Rich List.
The revelation came in The Sunday Times, where Dyson topped the broadsheet's annual 'Rich List' for the first time with a fortune of £16.2 billion – an increase of £3.6bn despite the costly EV project and the economic difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dyson, best known for its innovative vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, embarked on a project to built a seven-seat electric SUV with a 600 mile range, even going as far as to redevelop the former RAF Hullavington in Wiltshire into a development and test location for the car. It has since been repurposed to produce ventilators to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
A prototype of the Dyson car, dubbed N526 internally, had been produced and driven by Sir James in a secret compound at the facility, but it won't turn a wheel in private hands on the road.
"There's huge sadness and disappointment," Dyson told The Sunday Times. "Ours is a life of risk and of failure.
"We try things and they fail. Life isn't easy."
The failure Dyson is referring to is that his firm's maiden automotive foray couldn't be made profitable. Aimed at taking on the likes of Tesla, the car would've had to retail at £150,000 just to break even – currently the most expensive Tesla available retails for around £100,000, while the cheapest starts at £42,500. And while one might make a case for Tesla being here and Dyson not (in an automotive sense), Tesla has routinely faced financial difficulty and the need for increased investment.
"Electric cars are very expensive to make," he said. "The battery, battery management, electronics and cooling are much more expensive than an internal combustion engine," adding that traditional carmakers that sell EVs are making losses on their battery-powered cars, but are able to keep producing them because of the money that their more traditional products bring in.
"They're doing it because it lowers their average CO2 and NO2 emissions overall, helping them comply with EU legislation. I don't have a fleet. I've got to make profit on each car or I'd jeopardise the whole company. In the end it was too risky."
In the same interview with the British newspaper, Dyson revealed that thanks to years of battery development on his company's other projects, the Dyson car would not only be able to complete 600 miles on a single charge, but have the ability to do that all year round, at speed, and with things like the heater and the radio running, and that a lot of time and attention had been spent on optimising the 2.6 tonne car's aerodynamics the further help it achieve the impressive range figure.