James Dyson does not usually retreat, so when the billionaire founder of the UK consumer electronics group last week abandoned his project to build an electric vehicle, it was a surprise. He confessed to employees his regret at ditching a "fantastic car" in what was described as "a humbling U-turn".

Humbling, but probably wise. Dyson is unsentimental about unsuccessful experiments. "Didn't charge enough. Learnt that lesson," he once told me about the failed attempt to make washing machines.

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