Tesla is no stranger to lawsuits, having been on both the receiving end and acting as instigator in several nasty cases in the recent past. The Californian electric car startup is now at it again, this time taking on the formidable forces of the BBC, more specifically the network’s Top Gear program, for libel and malicious falsehood.
Tesla served Top Gear with a lawsuit yesterday, claiming that it had no other recourse. The company claims that it reluctantly took legal action after its repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.
The issue in concern stems from an episode of the popular television show that aired almost two years ago.
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 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 Top Gear misrepresented the company along these following points:
1. The Roadster ran out of charge and had to be pushed into the Top Gear hangar by four men.
2. The Roadster’s true range is only 55 miles per charge (not 211).
3. One Roadster’s motor overheated and was completely immobilized as a result.
4. The other Roadster’s brakes were broken, rendering the car undriveable.
5. That neither of the two Roadsters provided to Top Gear was available for test driving due to these problems.
According to Tesla, the breakdowns were staged, making most of Top Gear’s claims about the Roadster untrue. Tesla states that it can prove Top Gear’s tests were falsified due to the recordings of its cars' onboard data-loggers. Allegedly, neither Roadster ran out of charge during Top Gear's tests, or even came close.
Remember, Top Gear is one of the most popular automotive shows on the planet, reaching an audience of more than 350 million viewers, so there’s certainly some clout in Tesla’s claims. In fact, to this day, Tesla continues to field questions and explain what it claims are misconceptions created by the show.
Tesla simply wants Top Gear to stop rebroadcasting the particular episode and to correct the record.
You can rest assure, the MotorAuthority team will keep you updated on the topic. In the meantime, here's a link to a video of the review in question.