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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.

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RE: What is the Truth?
By aegisofrime on 3/30/2011 10:01:31 AM , Rating: 2
The review of the Ferrari 599 GTO wasn't exactly positive... IIRC, it was criticized for being virtually uncontrollable with the traction control off, and for being slower than the Ferrari 458 which was half its price.

RE: What is the Truth?
By Flunk on 3/30/2011 10:52:22 AM , Rating: 2
That's true, I believe they actually said that anyone who buys one is an idiot.

RE: What is the Truth?
By BZDTemp on 3/30/2011 11:31:23 AM , Rating: 2
Which is not the first time the knock Ferrari. For example they borrowed an Enzo from some rock star (Pete Townsend I think but not sure). They liked the car put also made a point in telling how little it had been used and that the visiting Rock Star left in a helicopter.

RE: What is the Truth?
By UNHchabo on 3/30/2011 1:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
they borrowed an Enzo from some rock star (Pete Townsend I think but not sure).

It was Nick Mason, drummer of Pink Floyd.

The conclusion at the end of the review was the same conclusion that they've given to many Ferraris over the past few years: a technically brilliant car that takes itself too seriously to be any fun.

RE: What is the Truth?
By BZDTemp on 3/30/2011 3:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
You're right it was Mason. Thank you.

In a way I think super cars have become to good or rather they have become to good for drivers but maybe not for those wanting them as statements of wealth.

It's like what fun it is to drive on public roads one something where the performance levels are so beyond what can be used. In a way it's much more fun to be in a car where you can accelerate up through the gears without fear of jail time and where it's possible to drift a little without having to go crazy speeds.

RE: What is the Truth?
By Spuke on 4/1/2011 3:52:54 PM , Rating: 1
In a way it's much more fun to be in a car where you can accelerate up through the gears without fear of jail time and where it's possible to drift a little without having to go crazy speeds.
I like the way you worded this. BUT, for me, it's NOT more fun to drive a "slow" car fast. I've owned nothing but "slow" cars and my present one is, finally, the real deal. This car is eminently more fun than any of my previous cars and I've had some fun the previous one's for sure.

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