Tesla Roadster

Top Gear is praised by many, but the show has also received much criticism for its content and comments made by presenters. Just one month ago the Mexican ambassador in the UK demanded an apology when the presenters of the BBC show mocked the Mexican Mastretta sports car on account of it being designed in Mexico. Now Top Gear is being sued by Tesla.

The seventh episode of the twelfth season featured a test with the Tesla Roadster. Apparently the electric sports car failed to fulfill its promises. After dramatically slowing down on the track, the car was seen being pushed into a garage to await charging. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson concluded: “It’s just a shame that in the real world it doesn’t seem to work.”

Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley-based company that designs, manufactures and sells electric vehicles claims that Top Gear faked the test with their car. According to Tesla, the episode that aired contained lies and misinformation about the Roadster’s performance, behavior and reliability. The Californian company accuses Top Gear of defamation and malicious falsehood, for example, the allegations that the brakes had also failed were false. Tesla claims Top Gear ‘intentionally and/or recklessly, grossly misled potential purchasers of the Roadsters’. Its reputation ‘has been severely damaged’, it added.

Tesla became aware of the staged scenes when the UK director of sales and marketing saw two scripts before the car had even been driven. The electrical sports car manufacturer says it was forced to act:

We have repeatedly complained about the inaccuracies and have asked the BBC to correct them, but they ignored us. The BBC’s conduct has given us no choice but to sue them and clear up their lies.

Tesla even made a special website for this issue, where the people can read the background of this case and the complaints. For those interested, you can read Tesla’s lawsuit here.

What do you think, has Top Gear gone too far?

[Via the Daily Mail]

27 COMMENTS

  1. Yes they have. Many times. It can easily be seen in their show that they fake stuff. Okey it is an entertainment show but damnit… that’s just goin too far

  2. If there’s anything for Top Gear to take away from this situation, it’s to not review American cars anymore. Anything negative said and it’s a lawsuit.

  3. Dave and John seem to be missing the point. A car manufacturer found scripts that not only describe what the TV show hosts are going to say, but also what the drivers and mechanics on the show will “reveal” about the show – BEFORE the show is taped.

    Top Gear, while not Consumer Reports, is supposed to be a legitimate car tester that does so in an entertaining manner. Its the expectation of the audience and the company that lends cars for testing that the depiction of the cars behavior be accurate, unbiased, and unscripted.

    Everyone likes Top Gear. That’s not the point. Top Gear reviews cars from a variety of companies, including America. That’s not the point. The point is that Top Gear decided to create an imaginary flaw in a car which is built by a company that is currently negotiating contracts with several multi-national companies and at least one government. What if this scripted show resulted in Tesla losing its $100 million + funding from the U.S. Gov’t? Or causes an exodus of millionaire investors? Just so you could chuckle a little before you went to sleep. That’s wildly irresponsible.

    And for the record, Tesla has employees in Maidenhead, UK. So this incident could create troubles for British job holders. If you live in Germany, be advised that Tesla manufacturers parts for Daimler. So misinformation could impact your job as well.

    This is completely unacceptable. In recent years I’ve found more and more reasons to mistrust Top Gear.

  4. The first time I watched this was when it came out…when I wrote that comment, I didn’t watch the youtube video. Well, after watching the video…all I got to say is WOW. I made a mistake. Tesla suing Top Gear is even MORE ridiculous then I thought. He makes maybe 1 or 2 bad comments and an ending sentence that was a little obnoxious…THEN he says it beats a 911 GT3. Yes, I know he then says it’s completely irrelevant but who races an electric powered car…

    My point is that there are numerous of other Top Gear episodes that bash other cars that cost more than the Tesla and that is a bigger international company. Even though Top Gear has a script, I’m sure they have broken it in the past with other cars, and I’m sure Tesla knew what was coming. Top Gear complains about most of their cars they, and they do over exaggerate. Tesla’s fault in my opinion.

    Nobody has to agree with me or tell me I’m wrong…I probably am, but that’s just my two cents.

  5. Yes Dave. And its not an assumptive for you say that reviewing American cars will result in lawsuits – especially when the company in question has UK employees – and an international investor base.

    Look – a company said a script exists prior to shooting. If that script contained inaccuracies about the building process, technology or capability of the car – and you run with the script anyway, you’re liable out of the gates. Now if that script called for the car stalling or described “problems” that would only occur during a test drive, then we’re beyond liable. They’ve engaged in wanton misinformation to sell advertising spots.

    If you know anything about Tesla, they are damn good at what they do. Some very large and reputable companies, like Daimler, have are using Tesla’s tech to create new products. Its goes beyond “under going tests”. A world of engineers are looking at Tesla. Engineers aren’t saying “they are getting there”. They are saying “Wow. Tesla made production electric cars feasible.” So much so, that people got worried when Tesla starting suing Fisker and others for copying its tech.

    Most importantly, Tesla indicates that the mechanical breakdowns to their car were faked. That items described as broken or having failed, which were in fact operational. Now this isn’t opinion. Either it broke or it didn’t. Perhaps it “had to break” because of the “script”?

    Top Gear isn’t supposed to be an episode of “Celebrity Apprentice” or “Miami Housewives”.

  6. Sorry but that’s just typical american behavior. I remember the TG Episode where the guys were in San Francisco with three muscle cars and Dodge didn’t want to give them the Challenger, because they told the truth “…and decided not to lend us one [car] because we are always horrid about their cars.”
    If the cars are rubbish and lets be honest, most american cars are below european standards talking about build quality and so on, TG has the right to tell it. And seriously I’m not sure if they were lying about the Tesla. It’s a fact that battery powered cars never worked properly.
    Suing everybody just make me laugh harder at the USA.

    Just my two cents.

  7. how do we know the tesla’s didn’t actually break? until it is proven that top gear faked the reliability issues tesla should hold off on the accusations. and dont reply with bullshit like a car manufacturer found scripts without including names and how they somehow randomly found these scripts. top gear does fake stuff to make it interesting and if this is faked yes its going to far but we shouldnt be so sure so quickly. cars do break.

  8. Everyone knows that this show is only there to entertain no one should take their tests seriously.

    I didn’t hear BMW shouting that the test of the X6 harmed the reputation of BMW. (YOu know the test in which the car couldn’t get up the hills)

    I still would buy a Tesla if they would be cheaper so that one can afford it as a 3rd car.

  9. what i don’t understand is that if Tesla found the scripts before the car had been tested, why did they continue with the testing? why did’nt they back out? any company who think that their image will be damaged by anything try avoiding it. it makes no sense that they start suing Top Gear now. This is what makes me think Tesla is being stupid with the accusations.

  10. @Authority Figure, you seem to know a bit about business and lawsuits, but you don’t have a clue about tv shows. How they make the script, how the shot the scenes, how and when in the proces of making the show they record the narrator voice. But this is insignificant. The main thing here is that this that you read and you think is the TG’s script, well it’s not. This is description of the Tesla’s test drive. I did a bit searching and I couldn’t find show’s script anywhere. I’m completely impartial about this case, but I watch TG from many, many years now and I’ve never seen faking failures in the show. Yes, they exaggerate and they stage some scenes, but never vehicle’s failure. The Caparo T1 broke down several time during the test, Aston-Martin Vantage broke a clutch and many other failures, but nobody sued them. When said thatthe trip computer in Audi R8 V10 doesn’t work, they corect themselves later and they said that the mistake is theirs and the computer works. So I know this, TG doesn’t fake failures and when they are wrong about some, they let as know about that. So imo Tesla is going to lose this badly.

  11. Authority Figure: Top Gear is about entertainment, it is NOT supposed to be a “legitimate car tester” as you suggested. They have never made that claim, in fact they constantly celebrate the fact that they are purely an ENTERTAINMENT program.

    If you want unbiassed factual buyer’s information, get a consumer reports subscription.

    Times like this, I’m embarrassed to be American. The American obsession with sueing is ridiculous. We should be ashamed.

    Carry-on TOP GEAR!!!

  12. Top gear is a car review program. its only recently that they have made a mockery of it and turned it into entertainment.

    and there is no doubt they fake most shit on it.
    i remember the hummer vs range rover episode “and the hummer seems to have just stopped” yes because it does that. its about time the BBC got what it deserves.

    them british aye, if its not british car, its not good. if the same tesla car was made in the UK. he would have praised it as the best car in the world

  13. Why did nobody else complained after so long ? Because all other electric car reviews say the same thing: the mileage is grossly overstated and everything runs very hot on the highway.

    Only Tesla can’t stand this truth.

  14. Interesting conversation. I continue to be amazed by how cowtailed people become when they develop an affinity for a product. Whether it be a car or a TV show. I also grow very weary of the “shut up American” strategy employed by some.

    (For the record, if you believe that you know something about all Americans because you know something about our government – then you really should invest some time in cultural immersion. I confess not all, but many of us, are just as disgusted with the actions of our politicos as you are, so save us from the rhetoric and easy punchlines and let’s talk about Tesla and Top Gear, rather than the country of origin of each commenter.)

    My points stand and are reinforced by some of your comments. Many of you suggest the show has degenerated into something less than authentic – which is problematic since it is the on-air representative of a magazine that vies to be seen as a genuine car tester.

    Yes, we all have to wait for all the evidence to be presented. But many of us have already stated incidences where we know already, for a fact, that tests or scenarios have been faked. Does this mean everything is fake? No. Does this mean everything Tesla says is automatically true? No. But it means its reasonable to assume there is some truth.

    That said, I would like to say “yes” I do know a lot about business. I’ve been an entrepreneur for over a decade and most of my peers are as well. Wit that said, Dodge is a crappy car company (to the gentleman that brought that up) but they have way less to lose than Tesla, which is on the verge of testing Toyota’s preeminence in the world of electric cars. If you follow the market you know how much is at stake and you know they HAVE to be litigious when it threatens their investment or consumer confidence – especially if they believe the information being shared is being package for shock value rather than education.

    So we will see. In the meantime, Top Gear looks a bit irresponsible. As to the fellow that asks “why didn’t they pull out” the reply is simple – Every car show and magazine always lists the companies that pull out, which is almost worst because you’re left looking amateurish, guilty or fearful of discovery.

    I’m sure Tesla would rather settle through mediation, but I hope it goes to court. I’d like to see what we can learn about the production of Top Gear. (Why did someone mention that they couldn’t find scripts online?? What show posts scripts online buddy? lol)

  15. This is my last few comments: If anything, that episode amazed me that an electric car has the potential to do 0-60 in 3.9. I was astonished that the specs were 200miles before losing electricity(I think that;s what Jeremy said, I’m not watching the video again). But honestly…WHO is going to buy an electric car for a little over $100,000? A lot of viewers that watch Top Gear, as Jeremy says, are “petrol heads.” I like Top Gear, and I like what they do. I love cars, and the entertainment is awesome. Personally, with 100 grand, I would get a ZR1, which gets like 5mpg on the track. I would never buy the Tesla, and I’m sure people who just watch the show for entertainment aren’t going to spend $100,000 on an electric car. I don’t even think those rich oil middle eastern princes would even waste their money on the Tesla. Oops, are they going to sue me for saying that? (was a joke…the Tesla was a good idea…but the price for the ELECTRIC car is outrageous).

    Sorry to get a little off topic..

    I also see where Authority Figure is coming from. He’s obviously a very smart man and knows his stuff. That is why I’m not going to try to compete with him about this subject because he knows more than me business wise lol.

    All I got to say is, TOP GEAR IS AWESOME!

  16. I think ‘authority figure’ has an obligation to disclose whether he/she has an ‘interest’ in vigorously defending Tesla.

    These manufacturers submit their cars to TG knowing well in advance what type of show TG is and the format used to review cars (good or bad). Tesla’s plan was to leverage commercial advantage through international exposure on TG, but cried fowl when they couldn’t control the outcome with glowing reviews.

    For instance, if you’ve ever watched TG episodes on Alfa Romeo and Lancia, they usually raise (and mock) the reliability of these cars. However they also mention that these manufacturers have produced some of the boldest, most inspiring and courageous productions/designs in automotive history.

    No one is perfect and Tesla’s lawyers are doing more to damage Tesla’s reputation than TG could ever managed to.

  17. I LOVE TOP GEAR (UK) It’s one of my favorite “entertainment” shows on television today! They make fun of every manufacturer out there and clearly don’t give a crap as they do so, and they shouldn’t because it’s HILARIOUS! Think about all the commercials that bash each other’s products left and right (ex: cell phone companies, cable companies, CAR COMPANIES)

  18. If this car is fucking great then why is it not sold at every dealer in the US.
    I AGREE WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT. Sorry if your mad about the truth, build something worthy of praise and we will praise it, until them it is a P.O.S.

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