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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: BBC has admitted it didn't need to be pushed
By tng on 3/30/2011 2:18:18 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
How exactly is this any different than a hydrogen vehicle running out of fuel? A propane vehicle? Solar? Wind? Human? Guinea pig? Diesel? A gas powered vehicle?
Ah come on Yash, you know how it is different.

If it were a Gas/Diesel/Hybrid vehicle they would have show someone walking down the road with a red can. A propane or NGV power car, I don't know what they would show.

For a PURE EV the solution is not so simple. Yes, you have to take the whole vehicle to where it can be recharged. You can't even do a battery swap on these since the battery packs are composed of hundreds or thousands of basically D sized cells. So the pushing of the vehicle is as much a reality in this case as the guy walking with the red gas can is.


RE: BBC has admitted it didn't need to be pushed
By YashBudini on 3/30/2011 5:11:55 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If it were a Gas/Diesel/Hybrid vehicle they would have show someone walking down the road with a red can. A propane or NGV power car, I don't know what they would show.

If an EV was equipped with a slower charging 110V option I'd argue there are more electrical outlets in the US than there are gas stations.

The Natural Gas Civic compresses the gas, there's no roadside option for that. Yes, I see your point, but I think you see mine as well.

Assuming that the Tesla has some kind of low fuel indicator, and assuming the driver comes to their senses when the indicator goes on the question becomes what's the range at that point when driven carefully? My car does 40+ miles at that point, though anything after 30 the thing really is running on fumes.

I suspect charging stations aren't that far into our future. The question is what will be the profit margin on such recharging/refueling places. Can we expect to pay 40-50 cents a KW/H?


RE: BBC has admitted it didn't need to be pushed
By tng on 3/31/2011 6:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If an EV was equipped with a slower charging 110V option I'd argue there are more electrical outlets in the US than there are gas stations.
OK, Point taken. Although I could say that still, if you just pull off at a rest area or even a gas station, it will be hard to find that 110V plug in.

You are correct of course, a low charge warning light would be on the vehicle somewhere, but if you have ever seen the show, a warning light seems just to incite them further. So I think that they would have tried to run it completely dead just for the sake of testing. I know I would have.


By YashBudini on 3/31/2011 9:01:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
a warning light seems just to incite them further

Children and their tantrums.

YouTube videos either don't get to the point or do get to the point much faster than these guys. Auto publications aren't worth a dime, just like my ratings.

Only 1 publication I've seen referred to the Ford Fusion's brakes as a clearly unsafe weakness. The rest of the rags called the brakes satisfactory. This is the problem with publications such as these, too much time and energy having to read between the lines. Don't get me wrong, Audio and Stereo Review were even worse at this kind of nonsense.

Currently 110V or even 220V access at convenient stores is not available due to sheer lack of demand. Of course what's to stop a tow truck from having a substantial generator that can get you up and running quickly? The unkind that runs of gas engines with no pollution equipment (/end irony).

Speaking of tow trucks. Any other car that stops in the middle of nowhere (especially this nice) would end up on a flatbed, not being pushed by 4 guys.


By YashBudini on 4/1/2011 1:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget anyone could sell electricity. Malls, Starbucks, restaurants. No tanks and their issues.


RE: BBC has admitted it didn't need to be pushed
By PrinceGaz on 3/31/2011 6:27:47 AM , Rating: 2
If you own an expensive electric vehicle, rather than pushing it if it runs out of electricity without warning (which shouldn't happen, but anyway), why not just keep a generator in the boot (trunk) and take it out to charge the car for as long as needed to get you to a charging point in an emergency?

Portable generators aren't rocket science, and a 3KW model is relatively cheap and light and will charge the car as quickly as a standard 240V domestic socket.


RE: BBC has admitted it didn't need to be pushed
By Spuke on 4/1/2011 4:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Portable generators aren't rocket science, and a 3KW model is relatively cheap and light and will charge the car as quickly as a standard 240V domestic socket.
And all you'll need is a cable with the female version of Tesla's charge port connector on it and you're good to go!


By YashBudini on 4/1/2011 7:13:28 PM , Rating: 1
Who's going to be happy standing around for that? And for how long?

At 240 volts 3000 watts works out to a measley 12.5 amps.

Do I need to cite or can I get away with the simple division of I = P / E ?


"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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