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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.

Sounds good oskin...don't worry, some (very lucky) other individual will greatly enjoy driving your (former) state-of-the-art Modle S with great enthusiasm!

Dont let the door...

If a widely-distributed show like Top Gear wants to present comedy fiction using actual cars as the butt of jokes, it should broadcast a disclaimer saying "These are not actual test results. This is comedy and bears no resemblance to the actual performance of the cars."

When they present their show as actual reviews of cars, while they are entitled to present any opinions they like, it is a breach of faith with their viewers, and slander or libel against the companies whose cars are shown, when they misrepresent the actual facts. And in the case of the Tesla Roadster, they lied about the facts.

There's no excuse. Especially when they are lying about a company that is struggling to bring a new and revolutionary kind of car to market.

Here's a series that was started to deal with EV disinformation as epitomized by the Top Gear Roadster "review".


That review was really good compared to how they tear apart even the best well rounded sports cars on a daily basis.

Drop the suit or settle for a retest using the latest Roadster. Anything else is just silly.

They lied in that "review" they made. That's intolerable, no matter what car they use, electric or otherwise. Too many people take their "reviews" seriously for that to let go, I have been forced to point out their lies too many times. If they would precede their "reviews" with disclaimer "this review will be pure fiction and has been tweaked to represent the predetermined views show script writers" then it would be OK.

Any information on the court case? I hear it's settled by now, but to what result?

The court awarded $1 million to Top Gear because Tesla said bad things about them.


Just kidding!!

@Larry oh you found Mr. Llewellyn too... i like him. He's the reason i'm so "charged up" about electric cars .)
REd Dwarf ftw!!!



Yes, I find him entertaining and balanced, although not very technical. I think that his series is suited to the typical consumer, rather than rabid enthusiasts. ;-)


There was a ruling in the UK courts. I have not heard what Tesla thinks but I wish they would have listened to my advice on my blog.

People watch Top Gear to see unrealistic and imaginative points of view. That is why the show is so dynamic and interesting to watch. I don't think that episode will change the minds of any interested buyers. Just look at the Nissan Leaf. Only 70 miles range, it still sells. As long as the car works as designed, no customers will be surprised and will be happy with their purchase. If the Model S can only muster 100 miles range when it's proclaimed at 200 miles, there may be widespread discontent.

"People watch Top Gear to see unrealistic and imaginative points of view. That is why the show is so dynamic and interesting to watch. I don't think that episode will change the minds of any interested buyers."

I hope you are right, but it seem that Elon doesn't share your feelings.

From The Detroit News:$65M-third-quarter-loss--beats-expectations

Musk complained that Roadster sales are disproportionately lower sales in the United Kingdom because of "the continuing adverse impact on the Roadster via reruns of 'Top Gear,' the UK's leading car show." "As a result, we had an excess inventory of right-hand drive versions of the Roadster and continue to incur additional costs to correct the consumer misperception," Musk said.


The mistake was letting Top Gear have access to the car in the first place.


Whoever suggested letting those morons have a look at Model S should be shot. They've bad mouthed every EV that has been loaned to them with outright lies and actions that even a 5 year old would call retarded. They don't deserve to get access to ANY car, ESPECIALLY not the Model S.

Denying them to test drive a car has been tried before. It only made them more interested in testing, and bad mouthing it, so they went to a dealership under cover and took a test drive with hidden camera. I think it was a small Rover.

Has anyone else come across comments prefaced with 'top gear' used as an adjective? Like, that's a 'top gear' take. It sort of puts the phrase 'top gear' synonymous with misleading or deceptive.

How 'bout as a verb?
'Watch out or they'll Top Gear you!'
Or a noun (plural only)?
'They're not just giving you the gears, they're giving you the Top Gears!'

But an adverb doesn't sound quite right:
'They reported Top Gearily."
Odd, but comprehensible ...

@Brian H, I love the verb form Thanks!!

Top Gear in all its glory:

Top Gear is now airing its programing on Public Television in the US. I suspect one episode they will not show in the US is the Tesla one. Us law is quite different in the US on this subject. If it is aired in the US, Top Gear would be subject to the rulinhg of US law.

jackhub, why did you let the cat out of the bag.

I have already seen that episode in the US on Dish Network BBC channel long ago. If you are right I would think that Tesla would already be in court. Maybe they have decided to just let it

I don't believe Top Gear could meet the legal standards of the US with this show. For that reason, I don't expect to see it in the US. They don't dare expose themselves.

I think TM could successfully sue BBC for libel in the US. My corporate litigation attorney wife has watched the show, and thinks a libel case in the US would turn out quite differently than what happened in the UK.

jackhub, I've seen this particular show on BBC America (that's in the US). It is a double edge sword. While I didn't even consider buying a Roaster, it did let me know about Tesla..... and here I am buying a Model S.

"There's no such thing as bad publicity!"?

I agree that most any publicity is good publicity. I saw the Top Gear video and it helped me decide to buy the Roadster. Blazing performance and no real problems uncovered. I had to go back to really see the purported issue with the range.

I don't think the "range" was the only reason that lawsuit was made, more like the last straw. They lied during the shoot of the "review" about many things. For example both cars could be driven at all times, neither run out of juice. Also whole scene was staged to match predetermined outcome which had been written before they even had the cars: Clarkson comment "it doesn't work in real life" was in the script. I got furious about that episode. Enough to stop me from watching TG ever again.

I wonder if they (Top Gear) will attempt to review the Model S when the time comes?

Also whole scene was staged to match predetermined outcome which had been written before they even had the cars: Clarkson comment "it doesn't work in real life" was in the script. I got furious about that episode. Enough to stop me from watching TG ever again. - Timo

Yes,I used to watch top gear, not anymore. I found it pure mindless entertainment, but I never considered it a car review show. However, deliberately staging the results to match their erroneous preconceptions takes it beyond entertainment value.


Nah, it just matches the news :-)

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