Tesla losing Top Gear court challenge

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IOL mot pic oct21 Tesla Top Gear . Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson speaking to camera after the Tesla ran its battery flat on the Top Gear test track.

In football parlance, the half-time score in the London High Court match between electric car company Tesla and the BBC's Top Gear programme stands at Top Gear 1, Tesla 0.

Tesla is suing Top Gear for, among other things, broadcasting footage in a 2008 programme that showed a Tesla Roadster running its battery flat after only 88km at racing speeds on Top Gear's airfield circuit.

Tesla claims that the insert was "staged" and that a Tesla should be good for about 320km on a charge, driven normally.

But on Wednesday Mr Justice Tughendat ruled that nobody could reasonably compare the car's range on the track to its likely performance on a public road.

Interestingly, the fact that the Roadster did in fact stop after only 88km has no bearing on the case. Tesla argued that Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, by mentioning Telsa's claims of a 320km range at that point, implied that Tesla was misleading the public.

Not so, said the judge.

"The words complained of are wholly incapable of conveying any meaning at all to the effect that Tesla misled anyone," he ruled.

"This is because there is a contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road. No reasonable person could understand that the performance on the Top Gear track can be directly compared with a public road."

The BBC isn't entirely off the hook, however; there are still five charges of malicious falsehood against Top Gear, among them that Clarkson said the car had suffered brake failure, when in fact it had blown a fuse, and that its electric motor had overheated.

Tesla says its reputation has suffered "continuing impact" because the 2008 programme is still available from the BBC's iPlayer video-on-demand service, on DVD and syndication to other broadcasters such as the SABC, which has still to show the 2008 season.

The BBC says it's a crock and the whole case should be thrown out.

Tughendat reserved judgement, however, on the malicious falsehood claim; he's expected to return a verdict in a couple of weeks. As soon as we hear anything, so will you.



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Anonymous, wrote

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05:53pm on 25 October 2011
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Good for Tesla. It might force Top Gear to objectively assess the vehicles they "review" or "test" rather than just rubbishing everything that isn't manufactured by their paymasters. Top Gear is really what the Americans call an Infomercial. Sadly the imbecilic viewers don't understand this.

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Hangmann, wrote

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09:46am on 24 October 2011
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I would buy one but currently, charging an electric car when the source is fossil fuel based, doesn't seem to make sense. I've seen the Top Gear program where Clarkson rubbished the Tesla and believe it was based on his pereptions and experiences with it, which were unique to him, get over it Tesla.

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Anonymous, wrote

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05:26am on 23 October 2011
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Smell the Exhaust and drink some Gas, it will do you some good!

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Frank, wrote

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08:36pm on 22 October 2011
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As a Tesla Roadster owning moron I find these comments way offtrack. The Roadster is a glorious ride, blowing of Ferraris and Porsches and usable as my daily car. The range is as advertised. I enjoy TopGear but this joke Jeremy played was just bad. Irony is the car is basically British - an electrified Lotus Elise.

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Martin, wrote

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03:39pm on 21 October 2011
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What a sore bunch of losers. How many cars have been rubbished over the years on Top Gear? How many cars have been praised? Clarkson did a review of the new Fiesta, including using in in a marines beach assault, that did wonders for the sales as did his review of the Skoda Yeti when he landed a helicopter on the roof. If you don't like what Top Gear might do to your cars, don't put them on there, it seems the yanks in particular don't like Top Gear reviewing their clapped out leaf spring v8 powered cars (that produce less than 200 bhp) that still use technology from the 1950's. Perhaps if they made better cars, there wouldn't be a problem. Oh and I don't remember VW getting worked up when they did that spoof set of adverts for the Sirocco, especially with Clarkson's one being about invading Poland, it was funny and not to be taken seriously. What moron would buy an electric sports car in the first place?

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fred, wrote

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01:50pm on 21 October 2011
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Agree Matt. We need more avenues where vehicle short comings or faults are exposed as early as possible to teach manufacturers and retailers to be be more honest,,, or fix the problem fast, & for free!

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Top Geariac, wrote

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12:32pm on 21 October 2011
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Oh i just love it when companies like Tesla and their rubbish electric cars fail gloriously.

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Matt, wrote

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12:09pm on 21 October 2011
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I find this completely hilarious, the number of times that Top Gear gets sued over some sort of thing, Morris mariner owners and of course enviromentalists, it is one of the things that makes it such a great show!!

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