2011 Tesla Roadster Final Edition, photograph copyright Damon Lavrinc / AOLEnlarge Photo
It isn't easy being a startup car company.
Running a new business is difficult enough without others damaging the reputation of your product. That's why Tesla CEO Elon Musk fought so hard over The New York Times' assessment of its Model S in a recent road trip, and why the company sued Top Gear for a report on its Roadster back in 2008.
Unfortunately for Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], it's now lost that lawsuit, reports Reuters.
The legal challenge centered on a road test of the Roadster on BBC car show Top Gear, back in 2008.
Driven by the show's main presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, the Roadster apparently delivered an extremely poor driving range, ran out of electricity before the test was over (the car was shown being pushed into a garage to be re-charged) and broke down after overheating.
Tesla said the report had "intentionally or recklessly grossly misled potential purchasers".
The latest suit seeked to overturn a prior judgement dismissing Tesla's libel claims, so it's unlikely the new case will go any further.
It was actually Top Gear's segment on the Roadster that encouraged Tesla to enable data-logging devices to its press vehicles, as comeback should a journalist try and fabricate data about the car's range or performance.
It was this tracking that Tesla used to call out The New York Times writer John Broder earlier this year whose report denounced the car's range capabilities in cold weather. Tesla says it missed out on $100 million in sales and cancelled orders due to the story--so their pursuit of damages from Top Gear is easy to understand.
Appeal Court Judge Martin Moore-Bick disagreed with Tesla's assertions, saying "It would be obvious to a reasonable viewer ... that the range derived from track testing was not in any meaningful sense the car's 'true range'."
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