Some say that the hosts of “Top Gear” don’t know much about electric cars and that what they say about them is always wrong. The hugely popular motoring show on the BBC has gotten into another quarrel with an electric car maker by slamming the Nissan Leaf.
Television host angers Nissan and the disabled in one swoop
BBC car show “Top Gear” has a reputation for courting controversy through outrageous stunts and trenchant remarks from the hosts, most notoriously from Jeremy Clarkson. Feuds have resulted from “Top Gear” car reviews, which some car makers contend border on libel. “Top Gear” was sued last year by Tesla Motors for what the company called a libelous review of the Tesla Roadster, according to The Guardian. The car maker contended the show faked its review of the car to show it running out of electric charge. Recently, an episode of “Top Gear” was filmed that featured a review of the Nissan Leaf and showed the host illegally parking it in a handicapped space, according to the Daily Mail.
Car maker lashes back
“Top Gear” producer Andy Wilman, according to The Guardian, has apologized for hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May parking their cars in handicap parking spaces. However, Nissan is angry over the review of the Nissan Leaf, according to The Telegraph. Nissan claims the BBC misled viewers. Nissan delivered a Leaf to the BBC for review with a full battery charge, which is good for 100 miles of driving. However, in the Leaf review segment, the car ran out of charge after 30 miles with Clarkson behind the wheel. Co-host James May was also test driving a Peugeot iOn, the electric car by the French automaker. Clarkson said in the segment that electric cars were “not the future,” adding that the battery packs were the “Achilles heel” of electric cars. Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer, according to CNET, said that data uploaded about the Leaf segment showed a 40 percent charge when they began the segment, and that Clarkson had driven it in circles in Cleesthorpes, about 140 miles northeast of London, which wasn’t shown in the segment.
Leaf still a success
Clarkson also said the Leaf was “a very good car, per se,” according to the Daily Mail. The Leaf sells fairly well, according to USA Today, and 931 Leafs were sold in the United States in July. It is also the only vehicle of its kind currently being offered by a major car maker. The closest competitor to the Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt, has not been selling nearly as well. Only 125 Volts were sold in the U.S. in the July, though the Volt is not a true plug-in electric car; it has a range-extending gasoline motor. Clarkson has been openly critical of “green” cars such as the Toyota Prius, repeatedly lambasting them on air.