BBC and Top Gear slapped with lawsuit by Tesla Motors

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Tesla Motors has slapped the BBC with a lawsuit over an episode of the series "Top Gear" because of allegations made by the hosts of show, pictured here, about the Tesla Roadster. Photo Credit: Phil Guest/

Tesla Motors is suing the BBC and one of the hosts of the popular series “Top Gear” for libel. The electric car manufacturer alleges that the show made detrimental and false claims during an episode which was supposed to put the Tesla Roadster through its paces. The British Broadcasting Corporation is vigorously denying the allegations.

Jeremy Clarkson does not amuse Tesla Motors

In December 2008, popular English automotive-related show “Top Gear” aired an episode on BBC2 in which the hosts put the Tesla Roadster to the test regarding its range claims. Tesla Motors was not amused with the results of the tests nor the events of the episode, and is suing the British Broadcasting Corporation for what Tesla considers false and malicious assertions by the program, according to The Guardian.

During the episode, “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson asserts that the Tesla Roadster ran out of electric charge in 55 miles as opposed to the 200-plus which Roadsters are supposed to get. The show also claims that the Roadster’s brakes ceased to function, and depicts the “Top Gear” crew pushing the car from the private “Top Gear” test track after it allegedly ceases to run. Tesla is not amused.

Car marker asserts false claims were made

Tesla maintains that the Roadsters in the “Top Gear” episode never actually ran out of  charge. Tesla was electronically monitoring the two cars loaned to the show for testing, according to USA Today, and asserts neither car fell below 25 percent charge. Tesla also asserts the brakes did not fail on one car as the show claimed, but a fuse controlling a component in the braking system failed, and the brakes would still have been sound.

During the episode, host Jeremy Clarkson did praise the Tesla Roadster as “an electric car you would actually want to buy,” and for being able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds with “a motor the size of a watermelon, with one moving part.”

Tesla is not seeking much in monetary damages, but doesn’t want the episode broadcast again. Tesla has been upset about the episode for some time, but began legal proceedings when the BBC refused to address the company’s concern over the claims made in the show, according to Forbes.

Not the first time in hot water

This is hardly the first controversy in which “Top Gear” has been involved. Hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May have been accused of making or tolerating homophobic and racist behavior and remarks, and the show is known for baiting the environmentally conscious. The show certainly displays an affinity for cars with serious horsepower and huge gas guzzling engines, but nearly every automotive television program and publication in existence does as well. “Top Gear” has a core audience in Britain of about 6 million people, according to Bloomberg, and a worldwide viewership of more than 300 million.


The Guardian

USA Today



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