Tesla loses 'Top Gear' battle

2013-03-08 11:35

LONDON, England - In 2011 we reported that battery-car company Tesla was pursuing legal action against Top Gear and the BBC for claiming that the road range of its Roadster was exagerated.

Tesla said the show misrepresented the Roadster when presenter Jeremy Clarkson said it ran out of battery power after 88km on the show’s test track, far short of the 320km range claimed by Tesla.

Clarkson said during the episode: "Although Tesla says it will do 321km, we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 88km and if it does run out, it is not a quick job to charge it up again."

Clarkson and his team were shown pushing the Roadster into the Top Gear hangar and recharging it.


Now Tesla, after months of legal tussling since 2011, has lost its court battle. California-based Tesla was seeking to overturn an earlier dismissal of its claim for libel and damages against the show, arguing it had lost sales in Britain as a result of the report.

Tesla argued that Clarkson's comments were defamatory because they had "intentionally or recklessly grossly misled potential purchasers".

Appeals Court judge Martin Moore-Bick disagreed; he said the comments did not libel Tesla. He said viewers would recognise that Top Gear's high-speed track testing was different to the average driver.

Moore-Bick said: "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'."

He also dismissed Tesla's claim for lost sales, saying it was "quite unrealistic" to argue that its failure to sell an additional 200 vehicles in the UK was entirely due to the show's unfavourable review.


  • alan.jerrold - 2013-03-08 12:32

    Jeremy Clarkson is not the most honest person when it comes to car testing. He did the same with the Nissan Leaf, being far more interested in sensation and publicity than accurate results. Hammond and May are great though.

      jeremy thorpe - 2013-03-08 13:10

      And I've no doubt that if Nissan took Clarkson to court on the same basis as Tesla, the result would be the same! Because basically the same is true of all electric cars...if you push them a bit, they have next to no range...and they take hours to recharge. And the Leaf is no exception.

      alan.jerrold - 2013-03-08 17:00

      I think though, Jeremy, that the vehicle does need to be tested in the same way as it will be used - i.e. not tearing around a race track the whole time. That is a false test. However, as a confirmed petrolhead, I hold no brief for electric cars. Just think that the 'added Clarkson' in road tests is riddled with hypocrisy. As Coenie pointed out, as long as anything has remotely British connections, he is all in favour of it in road tests, despite his actually owning a Merc. I enjoyed the Stig's book. When asked to describe Clarkson in one word, he said 'Insecure'. That would explain the man's constant bullying tactics of almost everyone he meets. Nevertheless, I do subscribe to Top Gear SA (when the SA Post Office lets me actually get it) as I really enjoy Hammond and May's comments.

      Ernst Joubert - 2013-03-09 20:45

      @Jeremy: 1) Obviously due to current technology an electric car is not suitable for your needs. You consistently bash this technology....thats fine....everybody is entitled to their own opinion. This doesnt mean that the technology is useless. There are plenty people that do most of their driving in the city and a car like the nissan leaf would make a great second car. A nissan leaf provides a perfect opportunity for people that are sick of the control oil companies have to get off of oil. 2) Top gear deliberately drained the battery before the test was conducted. They did the same with the nissan leaf. The tesla roadster was driven flat out around a race track and still provided an 88km range. Any petrol powered performance car driven like that would also result in a low range. The tesla roadster has a 200 mile range if it is driven normally (city highway combined) which is pretty decent.....and you can buy a tesla....you cant buy a feul cell vehicle. And you will not see hydrogen powered cars in your lifetime.

  • Bradley Ruiters - 2013-03-08 15:46

    Go for it Clarkson! That opportunistic twatt Elon Musk is behind this load of crud called the Tesla. Enlarging his fortune off gullible bunny huggers. He's in Cahoots with Obummer, funding his election campaigns and in return getting lucrative contracts via his Space-X company.

      jango.za - 2013-03-08 16:12

      And you have no jealousy for the man at all - right? S h u t u p bigot.

      Phoenix Px - 2013-03-09 07:35

      Oh wow you are NOT jealous at all, are you??? Terrible when others make a success of their lives! Elon Musk is a phenomenal human who has done thousands times more for mankind than what you have done. Do you not get the significance of the first PRIVATE space company; or Solar City, or the HyperLoop, or Paypal??? Wow you are such an idiot.

      Bradley Ruiters - 2013-03-09 08:35

      Just goes to show....the Tesla is a homobile, eh Phoenixx?

      Ernst Joubert - 2013-03-09 20:47

      @bradley ruiters: "Just goes to show....the Tesla is a homobile, eh Phoenixx?" Yeah....and youre an imbecile.

      Bradley Ruiters - 2013-03-10 09:15

      Hey hey hey! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's ernst "Kortbroek" joubert. Now get back in your closet, you pouffe.

  • Gabriel van Dyke - 2013-03-09 14:55

    I cannot get used to the fact that so many people take "reality", "science" and "religion" programming from the BBC, Discovery channels and National Geographic as more than very light-hearted entertainment. Due to the lack of any noticeable opposition, these *show* producers continue to pump out "techno-soaps" and "science-dramas" under a lacy veneer of technological content. It seems that we should always be more interested in the faces of the "scientists" and "technologists" presenting the content. I am almost obsessed with technology and I happen to love almost anything about aircraft or motor vehicle. So I watch. Yes, I hate the high-fives, low-fives, whoops, howls and other celebrations after some actor gets two brackets lined up and inserts a bolt correctly, every damned exaggerated situation of "yet another tight deadline" and similar crap-focus in documentary programming. But us technocrats just have to swallow this garbage because gran won't watch it if they aren't showing how the tough hot-rod builders have their daily cat-fight and then go out for yet another team-building diversion or get some cool new tattoos! Clarkson cashed in on "shock* journalism yet many people take him seriously. You've heard him talk about how many "torques" an engine has! He laughs all the way to his Swiss bank.

  • Courtney Baird - 2013-05-19 10:44

    these cars wont work in SA...........as soon as you plug it in Escom will phone you and say......"eish...you are draining the grid"

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