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Tesla to sue Top Gear for defamation

Tesla Roadster.

Tesla Roadster.

Published Mar 30, 2011

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To our knowledge, no motoring journalist worth his or her salt has ever avoided coming to blows with a car company's PR machine at some stage or another, over a road test that criticised the latter's product.

Usually the confrontation is limited to a string of snotty e-mails or a heated phone call or two, while cancelled advertising contracts are not uncommon either. Yet we've never heard of a media company ever being sued over a car review.

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Now one has and it’s none other than the BBC's Top Gear TV show. Tesla Motors, a high-end electric car specialist from the USA, is suing TG over an episode first aired in December 2008, in which the boys raced a Tesla Roadster against the petrol-powered Lotus Elise on which it's based.

However, the action ended after 88km with the Tesla being pushed and Jeremy Clarkson saying it had run out of charge. According to Tesla the car's batteries never died, and TG's subsequent excuse was that it was simply showing what could happen. Tesla also refutes the show's claim that the brakes broke.

Tesla's first response, quite fairly, was to ask for a retraction but since that never happened and that show is still bouncing around in repeats and on DVD, Tesla finally stripped its moer and filed a lawsuit.

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