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Tesla Roadster  (Source: Tesla Motors)

Left to Right: Hammond, Clarkson, and May  (Source: BBC)
Tesla isn't laughing when it comes to Jeremy Clarkson's antics

Top Gear is pretty much the biggest automotive show on the planet. It's car porn for car nuts and any enthusiast worth his/her salt watches every episode of the show by any means necessary. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, are known to take a few liberties when reviewing cars on the BBC program -- especially Clarkson -- but the antics of the show with regards to the Tesla Roadster are landing them in some legal hot water [PDF].

Jeremy Clarkson tested the Roadster along the show's famous "track" and made a number of false or misleading claims about the vehicle's capabilities. You can view the [admittedly low quality] Top Gear segment here for yourself. 

Tesla lays out the following portions of the review that were misrepresented by Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear: 

  • The Roadster ran out of charge and had to be pushed into the Top Gear hangar by 4 men.
  • The Roadster’s true range is only 55 miles per charge (not 211).
  • One Roadster’s motor overheated and was completely immobilized as a result.
  • The other Roadster’s brakes were broken, rendering the car undriveable.
  • That neither of the two Roadsters provided to Top Gear was available for test driving due to these problems.

Ricardo Reyes, Vice President of Communications for Tesla, further hammers Clarkson and his antics in a blog post:

In the episode, two Roadsters are depicted as suffering several critical "breakdowns" during track driving. The show’s script, written before the cars were tested, has host Jeremy Clarkson concluding the segment by saying, "in the real world, it doesn’t seem to work."

Today, we continue to field questions and explain the serious misconceptions created by the show. Many of us have heard: I know this car, the one that broke down on Top Gear. Despite the show's buffoonery, Clarkson’s words are taken as truth, not only about the Roadster, but about EVs. 

Tesla goes on to say that these lies being perpetrated by Top Gear are damaging to its image, considering that the show is rebroadcast on BBC television and available over the internet. In fact, Top Gear has roughly 350 million viewers worldwide, so it's understandable why Tesla is a bit protective of its "baby".

Most enthusiasts who watch Top Gear know not to take everything that the show portrays as gospel, but Tesla isn't taking any chances with this lawsuit -- even if it comes two years after the original episode first aired...

Updated 3/30/2011 @ 11:45am EST

The BBC has responded to Tesla Motors' lawsuit, stating that it will "vigorously defend" Top Gear's claims.

Comments     Threshold

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RE: What is the Truth?
By stu4500 on 3/30/2011 8:41:40 AM , Rating: -1
Yanks don't get pommie comedy

RE: What is the Truth?
By tng on 3/30/2011 11:54:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yanks don't get pommie comedy

Not sure what "pommie" is, but I really do find the show hilarious.

I still don't understand why Tesla is doing this. Either the cars legitimately broke down on the show or not. If they did break down, then they deserve the rap they got on the show.

If they did not break down then that is a whole different story.

RE: What is the Truth?
By mcnabney on 3/30/2011 12:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think that is the angle that Tesla is taking. The pre-writen script says that they are to break down, so obviously the creators of the show made them break down to fit the script.

RE: What is the Truth?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/30/11, Rating: -1
RE: What is the Truth?
By Xaussie on 3/30/2011 12:51:35 PM , Rating: 5
Actually it is POME, Prisoner of Mother England and it Australians most definitely refer to the English as Pommies (e.g. ave a go you pommy bastard - shouted often when Mike Brearley was at bat). Originally it was how the English referred to Australians but over time it became used by Australians referring to English as well.

RE: What is the Truth?
By UnauthorisedAccess on 3/30/2011 8:47:57 PM , Rating: 4
I'd like to note that when Australians say 'pom' or 'pommie' it's not a derogatory word on it's own. The poms within Australia understand this though I've heard many stories of Australians being yelled at within the UK for using the word.

We use it to represent 'an English person' rather than a 'Prisoner of Mother England'.

Septics on the other hand... ;)

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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