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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 3/31/2011 6:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
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
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.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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