Engineering company and retailer Dyson is planning to develop its own battery-powered electric car by 2020.

The business’ founder and inventor James Dyson said that £1bn would be spent on developing the car, and a further £1bn would be used to develop the battery that would power it.

Dyson said that 400 staff have been working on the top-secret project for the last two years at its Wiltshire headquarters.

However, the engineering business, which launched its Oxford Street flagship last July, has not yet chosen a factory site to continue the development of the electric car, nor does it have a prototype for the vehicle being made as of yet.

Dyson said in an email to his company’s employees: “Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential.”

Details such as top speed, the level of production and cost are not yet confirmed publically, but Dyson said that what was being developed was “quite radical”.

“I’m not a Johnny-come-lately to electric cars. It’s been my ambition since 1998 when I was rejected by the industry that has happily been creating dirty vehicles, and governments have kept on allowing it,” he added.

Dyson opened a £332m research and development centre in Singapore in February dedicated to developing AI-powered smart home technology. Dyson said at the time that “almost every product can benefit” from the technology.

However, the inventor has said that this will not stretch to Dyson’s electrical car being autonomous, and added that he thinks “total hands-off driving is some way off.”

Dyson said it had divulged details on its development of an electric car after details of its ambitions to build a battery-powered automobile were accidentally disclosed in a government document last year.