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How We See It - Top Gear Lawsuit

On March 29 2011, Tesla filed a lawsuit to stop Top Gear’s continued rebroadcasts of an episode containing malicious falsehoods about the Tesla Roadster. Top Gear’s Executive Producer, Andy Wilman, has drafted a blog to present their side of the story. Like the episode itself, however, his proclamations do more to confound than enlighten.

Mr. Wilman admits that Top Gear wrote the script before filming the testing of the Roadsters. The script in question, concluding with the line "in the real world, it absolutely doesn’t work" was lying around on set while Top Gear was allegedly "testing" the Roadsters. It seems actual test results don’t matter when the verdict has already been given -- even if it means staging tests to meet those predetermined conclusions.

Now Mr. Wilman wants us to believe that when Top Gear concluded that the Roadster "doesn't work," it "had nothing to do with how the Tesla performed." Are we to take this seriously? According to Mr. Wilman, when Top Gear said the car "doesn't work," they "primarily" meant that it was too expensive. Surely they could have come to that conclusion without staging misleading scenes that made the car look like it didn’t work.

Mr. Wilman's other contentions are just as disingenuous. He states that they never said the Roadster "ran out of charge." If not, why were four men shown pushing it into the hangar?

Mr. Wilman states that "We never said that the Tesla was completely immobilized as a result of the motor overheating." If not, why is the Roadster depicted coming to a stop with the fabricated sound effect of a motor dying?

Mr. Wilman also objects to Tesla explaining our case, and the virtues of the Roadster. Top Gear has been re-broadcasting lies about the Roadster for years, yet are uncomfortable with Tesla helping journalists set the record straight about the Roadster’s revolutionary technology.

Mr. Wilman seems to want Top Gear to be judged neither by what it says, nor by what it does. Top Gear needs to provide its viewers, and Tesla, straightforward answers to these questions.

Entertainment show or not it does not give them right to tell outright lies about car in a way that they seem to be telling the truth.

I wouldn't have any problem if TG had made some obvious joke about the car (like the one you mention), but problem is that those fabrications were presented like actual facts.

I'm absolutely astonished that bloggers here can take the statment "The car doesn't work" and magically transform it into "TopGear LIKED the Tesla." Amazing ability of the human mind to distort reality. Sounds lke TopGear's executives and lawyers are just as braindead as wobble-headed Clarkson. I've read many a serious and legitimate auto test in my years, and never once did a tester conclude from some glitches in early production models that the car in question "doesn't work." In the first place, auto testers neither have the opportunity nor the ability to do reliability testing and, more importantly, it's not their job.
Sounds like TopGear's best defense may be "Hey, everyone knows we're morons, so you can't sue us for incompetence." That actually is their only valid argument. Everything else they've said lately simply reinforces the impression of incompetence they gave in their video production. The fact that this show is apparently popular is scary, but we have to remember, this is Britain, where the BBC manufactures news items at will. You expected intelligent behavior from the grease monkeys at TopGear? Silly fool.

Hello? My post was apparently moderated?

Or did it go to some blog entry? There was some odd behavior here before, there was "save" and "preview" buttons at the bottom instead of "submit" like there is now.

dont worry grave, we gave up on you being anything but a brainless BBC TG shill LONG ago.

@ miss the point entirely, as do all who defend TG do by stating that it is an entertainment show.

You TG fans who regularily watch TG need to understand that there are many, many casual viewers of TG to whom TG is representing themselves as a credible auto reviewing show...hence the extrememly damaging effects of TG's malicious misrepresentations about the Roadster.

You also need to understand that perception can be greatly influenced by actions which in many cases is more effective that printed or spoken words...TG did not have to say the Roadster was out of charge, but they clearly inferred it by showing their staff pushing the Roadster off of the course. For the sake of brevity, I'll not list all of TG's perception and uttered perversions of fact.

TG's fleeting acquaintance with the truth about the Roadster and many other ICE vehicles (on other episodes) does not seem to upset you like most folks. I hope for your and other fans of TG sake, that TG mounts a better defense than to the effect of "you should have known not to believe our reviews as we are an entertainment show, not a credible source of automotive information" elsewise they'll be treated roughly in this action.

Perhaps the best thing that can happen is that after TG apologizes for their chicanery, that TG is forced to either become a credible, factual reviewer of automobiles, or they reire from the airwaves...

Sorry, that last bit should read "or they retire from the airwaves".

Perhaps the best thing that can happen is that after TG apologizes for their chicanery, that TG is forced to either become a credible, factual reviewer of automobiles, or they reire from the airwaves...

I actually don't hope that they become a credible factual reviewer, just that they get their act together so that their jokes are obvious as jokes. Car reviews should not be presented like they are actual car reviews, unless they actually try to review the car (leave driving to Stig, no-one else there knows how to drive a car).

It is a fun show. I was a fan of it, but seeing Roadster treated like they did started me to think about all the other cars they "reviewed". Maybe those were also full of crap. OTOH I don't remember any ICE car getting as bad review as Roadster got. There were no comparison of Porsche 911 GT3 to VW beetle when they reviewed it, no mention about short range of any ICE car except that mentioned Ford GT running out of fuel (which it apparently actually did, not fabricated show "what would happen" there). No showing some backyard distiller capable of producing one gallon of ethanol/methanol mixture in about week for fuel source of car, or pipette as method of putting that gas into tank etc.

I was seriously interested in the model s. Now I'm not. Let me know when you guys grow up.

here is an interesting take from someone who has also experienced the TG staged reviews (the G-Wiz). He suggests a correlation between the show and a decline in their sales after they tampered with the vehicle to get the desired results for the "show".

@ chirs...Go sulk in some other forum, but rest assured that there will be thousands of folks who will be more than happy to drive (your former) Model S wearing a big Tesla Grin! ;7)

@Timo I do remember they only "reported" negatively about Rover. They were "blamed" for sinking that company.

Even if it's all entertainment they do have influence on the general public. In the Netherlands a popular stand up comedian sank the (one of the) first alcohol free beer. The video is still an online hit on youtube.

Again, Does the BBC have any viable competiton in the UK. Maybe an american show could review the Tesla. I am assuming the UK does get american tv.

Aside from the lack of communication on the issue, history shows how sea-change technology is attacked. Electric current delivered by wires was attacked as "dangerous". There was one group who went about the countryside electrocuting stray dogs in public to terrorize citizens against electric lights.

The fact that Tesla is being attacked shows that they have fingered the future and some interests feel threatened.

Anyone investigate if money suddenly appeared in Top Gear or Andy Wilman's bank account from possibly a petroleum company?

The conspiracy theorists are out in force on this one, I see. I don't believe Top Gear had a vested interest in bringing down Tesla (or G-Wiz, for that matter) for a moment. The fact is that - like it or not - your average TV viewer likes to watch a bad review more than a good one, and so a show that pokes fun at a car's weak points is going to get more viewers than one that does truly objective reviews. In the UK, we have another car show called Fifth Gear, that does exactly that (the 'objective reviews' thing), and it's not nearly as popular as TG. For the record, their review of the Tesla is here:

TG lied, not just "pokes fun at a car's weak points". They lied, it is affecting general public opinions, that is the point of the lawsuit.

I don't believe they lied - I haven't seen a single argument in this thread, or elsewhere, that proves they did, and a straight-out lie is usually a pretty easy thing to prove.

I think they mislead, certainly, and I can't say whether that was intentional or just naive (that's what the courts have to decide), but they didn't lie. OK, you could claim I'm just arguing semantics here, but there's a world of difference (at least in legal terms) between saying 'the car doesn't work' and 'the car doesn't seem to work', and between showing a car being pushed into a garage and actually saying 'the car had to be pushed back to the garage because it broke down'.

I'm sure I'll get a response or two saying 'what's the difference - they still mislead potential customers', but it'll be hard for Tesla to win a court case if they can't prove the intention to deceive. Personally I think TG have been quite careful to use language etc. in their programme that's defensible in court.

I reckon the best Tesla can hope for here is that they'll win the moral high ground, but not the case.

Then dig deeper. Look the actual show, check the lawsuit and check the facts. They lied and it is easy to prove.

@Timo: saying something over and over again doesn't make it true. Let's wait and see what the court says.

I trust what Tesla has said about things. Also I know what Roadster can do, so proving misinformation is no the question here, question is only is it worth compensation and if so how much and/or what kind.

I want to know how many people here have pushed thier driveable ICE car that had 1/4 tank of gas for fun/comedy?

A couple of thoughts come to mind.

First of all, people often disguise really nasty motives/thoughts with "I was just kidding." The So. Cal. politician that blasted an email with Obama's face on a chimpanzee (swearing that such act was not racially-motivated) comes to mind. Point being, there are limits to the "humor license." When you use mass media to disparage a company's product via false "facts," you are playing with fire. TG had to know that when they produced this episode, yet they chose to (repeatedly) run same, with the ultimate goal of increasing viewership/income.

It is pretty clear (to me, at least) that the TG episode on the Roadster was the result of the fact that (1) Tesla is American, not British, and (2) Tesla (and EVs in general) threatens the ICE/petroleum status quo, in which TG, whether they will admit it or not, is deeply mired. Not sure if I would go so far as to accuse TG of taking petrodollars in exchange for blasting EVs, but, at the very least, asking TG to love an EV is like asking a dog to meow.

Just my .02.

It has gone very quite on the Tesla/Top Gear lawsuit front. They must be negotiating in private now.

I agree with scswickman that TG does seem to favor ICE over the electric. But changes happen and we all must adjust with the times.

Blueberries message is a spam, copy&paste from earlier message. Everybody flag Blueberries messages.

I just watched the TG 10 min video on-line, and I watched the 7 min 5th Gear video on-line.
A few points that I'd like to bring up -
If you drive the Roadster "Green", you'll get 200+ (maybe even 311) miles on a full charge.
If you drive the Roadster "Hard", you'll get fewer miles.

The same is true for any ICE or Hybrid vehicle. If you drive around with your foot ground into the floor, you're not going to get double digit mpg in a Ferrari, even though it may claim 17 mpg for highway mileage on the window sticker.

In fact, other than my Ford Fusion Hybrid, which exceeds the sticker claims over my first 7.5k miles, I've never owned a car that got what the sticker claimed, because I never drove "Green" before.

That being said, the Roadster is a "Green" car, a fun car, and an attractive car.

Both TG and 5th Gear comment on positives and negatives about the Roadster. No one said that the Roadster is the next "perfect car" (not even Tesla). They both said that it's an incredible EV car.
Tesla didn't advertise the Roadster as a "track" car, or a "race" car, it's a two-seater convertible sports car. It's designed for a fun afternoon of driving, and that's what it delivers, hands-down.

Anyone who wants to drive a 500 mile race around a track needs to look at NASCAR, where they design their engines to last about 700 miles. The Roadster is designed to last! If you're going to buy a Roadster, you're going to treasure it, drive it with pride, and if ou want to go on an extended trip with it (beyond the 200 mile range), then you just need to plan your stops appropriately.

Tesla has charging stations at all of its stores, and in addition, is forming a partnership with certain hotels so that you can charge while you stay over.

I think that TG and 5th Gear both presented the "negatives" of the Roadster, but TG simply took a lot more "artistic license" in their presentation, and that is what TM is disappointed about. The defamation of the Roadster doesn't come from the fact that TG says it only gets 55 miles when you drive it under track conditions. It comes because they show people literally pushing the car, when in fact, the car is smart enough to get into an energy saving mode when you push it too hard, or get close to empty, to help you to get to a charging station.

In 5th Gear's drive, they went about 150 miles, plus the track laps, and had 8 miles left on the battery. It's true that isn't a 400 mile tank, but if you're using the car to commute, or even for a day trip, most people can get "there and back" in ~200 miles.

I can't wait to test drive the Roadster on Saturday!

"Artistic license" as in "they lied as much as they could".

TG is doing it again, just now for Peugeot iOn and a Nissan Leaf.

Cross-country driving in EV:s that are certainly not meant to do that. That's pretty deliberate bashing of EV reputation. I wonder how much Big Oil stocks TG bosses have.

Green cars aren't for everyone... And electric cars definitely aren't for everyone.

But, I will say this... when you drive your ICE, and the little fuel light comes on and says you have 50 miles left to empty, don't you start looking for a gas station?

The same thing holds true for an electric car, if it says you're running out of charge, go look for a place to plug in.
And, make sure that you plan your route intelligently so that you'll have appropriate charging stations along the way.

I think that one of the biggest drawback to electric cars right now is that there are gas stations distributed in close proximity all over the country (US), whereas the electric charging stations might only be 1 or 2 per city, depending on the arrangements that TM has made. In addition, you can fill your tank with gas in 5-15 minutes, whereas you fill your batteries with electricity in 3-8 hours.

Going forward into the future, as more manufacturers offer purely electric cars, or plug-in hybrids, and the demand for the electric charging stations increases, the number of stations will increase.

Big Oil companies definitely have a lot to lose with the success of the electric cars. But, instead of trying to squash the competition, they should get on board, the way that Toyota/Lexus was the pioneer in the Hybrid market.

One other comment about the electric cars... if you are using it to commute (let's say 40 miles/day), and you top off your battery every night while you sleep, you've always got a full range the next day. In your ICE vehicle, you only have a full range when you pull out of the gas station, so every other morning that you wake up, you have less than a full range available to you. As long as your total daily drive is less than the range available in your electric car, you never need to worry about running out of energy.

For the long trips out of town, the electric might not be the optimal vehicle of choice, picking a fuel efficient hybrid could do the trick. Let's say you want to take a 640 mile trip. I can do that on a single tank of gas in my Fusion Hybrid (with a drop of gas to spare). If I'm driving 64 mph, that's 10 hours of driving (a very long, but doable day). If I were to try that same trip with the Roadster, let's call it 200 miles per charge, that's 3.25 charges, which means on top of the 10 hours of driving, we'd need an extra 8-10 hours of charging. Tesla never claimed that the Roadster was designed for this type of trip, and shouldn't be bashed for not being able to drive it effectively.

Just to remind people, about number of gas stations.
I live in a town of 3500 people: About 1500 houses. There is one gas stations about 2 miles from me.
Gas stations for gas cars: One. Open til 8PM. 2 miles away.
Power stations for EVs: Over 1000. Open all night. Many with L2 charging. Located outside my door.

Personally, when I had my RAV4EV, I charged away from home less than a dozen times in 6 years.

You ain't gonna need chargers on every corner. If I had been looking for power stations in Britain, I'll bet you 1) I could have found plenty of them, and 2) I would not have run out of charge. Clarkson is a buffoon. He was noted running around and around in town *in order to* run out of charge, on campus, so they could make a scene in the most populated area.

I don't like what Top Gear did one bit (and I am a fan of the show) and I think Tesla had to do something about the misinformation/skew of the piece, but I have to admit that a law suit was probably not the best approach. A wise PR manager should have been able to come up with a series of better responses, for example putting Elon Musk on the show for an interview (and on the track in a "reasonably priced car and all that) with a more tounge in cheek response. I am afraid the law suit will be dismissed by the public, if not by the court, as a very California thing to do.

I used to be a big fan of both Tesla and Top Gear, and I was considering Model S as my next car.

Tesla is suppose to be hip, fun, and exciting. However, seeing some of comments by people here, it makes me realize Tesla is not the brand I want to be associated with.

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