Tesla Motors Sues BBC’s Top Gear for Libel Over Road Test

2011-tesla-roadster

Electric-car manufacturer Tesla Motors has sued the BBC television program Top Gear for “libel and malicious falsehood”, claiming that a 2008 review of the Tesla Roadster (which can be seen here) was unfairly biased against the electric sports car. The review, which first aired in the U.K. on December 14, 2008, asserted that the Roadster could only travel 55 miles per charge, and that the car couldn’t be tested because its braking system failed.

Tesla’s primary complaint is that Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson told viewers that Roadster could only travel 55 miles per charge, before showing the car being pushed by assistants to imply the car had drained its batteries. Tesla claims the car’s range is roughly 245 miles, and that data logged by the test cars showed the battery was never more than 75 percent discharged during Top Gear’s testing. The company feels this may have discouraged potential customers from buying a Tesla.

A second Tesla Roadster had been provided to Top Gear, but it wasn’t driven because Clarkson claimed the braking system had failed. Tesla, however, says the braking system was fully functional, but that the vacuum pump for the brake-assist system was broken -- the brakes would still work, but they would require much more pedal effort. Finally, Tesla contends that the review’s concluding sentence, “It’s just a shame that, in the real world, it [the Tesla Roadster] doesn’t work” was unfair and tarnished the car’s reputation.

Tesla is suing now, over two years after the original episode aired, because the Top Gear episode has been rebroadcast around the world, online, and in DVDs of the show. Tesla claims this “disinformation campaign” has hurt the Roadster’s image and popularity.

The company’s goal with the lawsuit is not compensation -- Tesla doesn’t expect to receive more than £100,000, about $141,000, from the courts -- but to force “Top Gear to stop rebroadcasting this malicious episode and to correct the record.”

Source: Tesla

John
I saw the video when it was first broadcast and i thought it was essentially positive. I've reviewed it again after reading Tesla's court challenge (from Tesla's own website) and I think they fit the definition of idiots. From the show I gathered they were quite keen on having Top Gear try their vehicles and even sent two in case one broke down which doesn't really seem to be a vote of confidence on their part. They also seemed to have had a technical team on hand to fix any problems and yet the cars still didn't work as advertised. One of the cars was run afterwards with the Stig driving and he demonstrated that the Tesla was as fast as a Porsche 911 GT3. They should have walked away, fixed their vehicles and asked for a second test. They would not have been the first car company to have done this and they won't be the last. Of course later in the same Top Gear episode James May tested the Honda FCX Clarity in Los Angeles which is also electric but uses a hydrogen fuel cell. This is what the Tesla should be. There is no difference in operating the Clarity compared to driving an ordinary Civic. Refuelling takes about as long as a conventional car and there is no range anxiety. I bet Honda didn't supply two vehicles and a crew of technicians to watch over their products while James May was driving.
STEVE
ITS NOT TOP GEAR THAT'S HURTING THE ROADSTER'S IMAGE AND POPULARITY, ITS TESLA THEMSELVES WITH THAT GOD AWFUL PRICE TAG!!!!!!! SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CATER TO THE RICH!!!!! (SHITTY SALES)
jodee
Maybe tesla needs to stop whining about it and give topgear a car fully charged and one that works instead of giving them crap that doesn't work. they should of done that in the first place.Who wants a electric car that is flawed when they see it on national tv that topgear is trying to test drive. Get with the program tesla.

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