About two years ago BBC’s Top Gear aired a test drive of the then relatively new Tesla Roadster. While this was seen as a major boon for Tesla, the light shone on its all-electric sports car by the popular show was somewhat less than flattering. In fact, it was rather downbeat.
What makes the matter so hard to swallow for Tesla are facts, which the electric car company claims, are simply unfounded.
Tesla has since sent a lawsuit to Top Gear for libel and malicious falsehood against its Roadster.
The Californian startup claims that it had no other recourse, issuing a statement that it reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the makers of Top Gear and the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.
According to Tesla, Top Gear’s on air review of its electric Roadster “contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster’s performance, behaviour and reliability”. In the particular episode, Tesla Roadsters are depicted as suffering several critical “breakdowns” during track driving. Host Jeremy Clarkson concludes the episode by saying that in the real world the Roadster "doesn’t seem to work"
Tesla claims that the breakdowns were staged, making most of Top Gear’s remarks about the Roadster untrue. Tesla also states that it can prove Top Gear’s tests were falsified due to the recordings of its cars’ onboard data-loggers.
In one instance, Clarkson states that Roadster would only be able to drive for around 55 miles on the Top Gear track, far short of the claimed 211 miles.
Tesla points out that its test cars on the day never ran out of battery power as simulated on the show, and that its Roadster has been certified under UN ECE R101, the EU regulation for measuring electric vehicle range, at 211 miles. All ECE R101 tests are witnessed and certified by a neutral third party approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in Tesla's case, the Department of Road Transport--Netherlands. Though Tesla admits aggressive driving will reduce mileage, it claims that Top Gear’s assessment is not representative of real-world range.
Tesla now wants Top Gear to stop rebroadcasting the particular episode and to correct the record.
With a global audience of more than 350 million viewers, Tesla’s demands are completely understandable. In fact, even today, close to two years down the track, Tesla continues to field questions and explain what it claims are misconceptions created by the show.
Stay tuned for an update.