Last week Tesla Motors, maker of the of the electric Tesla Roadster sports coupe, served Top Gear with a libel suit claiming that an episode featuring the sports car contained false and exaggerated criticisms, some of which included failed brakes and an overheated and immobilized motor. A complete explanation of the claim is posted on Tesla’s website.
Recently, Top Gear’s executive producer Andy Wilman responded to the suit in a blog post on the show’s website, providing a detailed counterpoint to each claim.
He starts with the Roadster’s range, claiming the show never refuted the company’s advertised range of 211 miles, but instead boasted a short 55-mile range based on hard track use. He points out that Tesla engineers back in California confirmed their calculations. And when the engine overheated from their testing, Wilman says the show stated the car had “reduced power” while Tesla maintains that they said it was “completely immobilized.” Lastly, Tesla claims that Top Gear lied when they stated the brakes were broken. Though a failed vacuum pump fuse required the driver to push the brake pedal harder than normal, the brakes were still operable. Wilman argues that broken is broken, especially if something requires a visit to the shop for repair.
Wilman says the BBC normally stays quiet while preparing their defense for court, but took the unprecedented step of fighting back since Tesla is “being quite noisy with their views” of the show’s conduct.
Shortly after Wilman issued his take on the matter, Tesla issued its own response.
"Mr. Wilman seems to want Top Gear to be judged neither by what it says, nor by what it does," corporate representatives wrote on Tesla's official website. "Top Gear needs to provide its viewers, and Tesla, straightforward answers to these questions."
Tesla insists it "wants people to know the truth, and correct the public's misperceptions" of its electric two-seater. Since the episode first aired on December 14, 2008, it has been rebroadcasted on both the BBC, syndication, and several dozen websites. Tesla wants the episode to disappear for good, and is banking on the courts to agree.
At this point, it seems the only point both sides can agree on is this may prove to be a lengthy legal argument...
Source: Top Gear, Tesla