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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.

I get my news from Comedy Central as I find it more honest.

And your comedy from MSNBC?


You must laugh to keep from crying they say?

I don't think tesla should worry about them rebroadcasting it. For many of us, such as I, found out about tesla though top gear. I am a Huge Tesla fan and a top gear fan, If you have watched top ever you would know that it is more of a comedy with some huge opinions and some facts. The show is basically run by Jeramy Clarkson and he is the definition of a bias person who believes stereotypes. Nobody watches Top Gear for the facts!

Forever TSLA

I wish people would not watch TG for facts, but unfortunately that is not true. I had to correct peoples opinions about things about zillion times after that show appeared. Way too many (loud) people took all those lies as facts. After seeing that episode I think there is no facts in the TG show whatsoever. Everything is scripted and predetermined before they even get the cars in their hands.

"It was on TV. It must be true!"

I support electric cars to the point where I have made it part of my career to do research on pseudocapacitor technology. I respect Tesla's automobiles and hope their business booms and development continues. However, I think Tesla's reaction to Top Gear is misguided.

The Tesla Roadster is a sports car. It was advertised as such and its performance was arguably the biggest selling point. Sports cars are designed to be driven fast and hard for extended periods, that's the whole point. I would argue that to sell a car that is that fast and say otherwise is not only disingenuous, but irresponsible. Why? Because the alternative to driving the car hard on a race track would be to drive it hard in short burst on the street, which is dangerous, especially without driver experience in the controlled environment of a racetrack.

Regardless of the safety issues, all other sports cars tested by Top Gear are subjected to the same punishment. If the brakes fail, Top Gear chides them. If they break, Top Gear complains. Why should the Tesla Roadster have a special, easier test for it? You can argue that it's a street car and shouldn't have to hold up to this type of abuse. But Corvettes, Porsches, and even Honda Civics, all much cheaper, can take it and drive home. The 55 mile range under these conditions, IS an issue because the car takes so long on standard outlets to charge. A gasoline automobile uses more fuel on the racetrack and often gets only 7 mpg, but filling takes minutes. The overheating is an issue. Who wants to be racing around a track with their friend in the lotus and all of sudden he leaves you in the dust because you're in limp mode again? I don't think anything needs to be said about the necessity of good brakes.

An alternate response to Top Gear would have been the following. "The car is in constant development because we are doing something that no one has done before by building a fun mass produced electric sports car. We are developing better engine cooling systems that will be available as a retrofit for owners who have experienced issues. We are working with racetracks in California to get the fastest electric chargers available installed. We are redesigning the brakes..." I could go on, but this type of response looks much better that suing Top Gear. Tesla should rise to the challenge. If Tesla builds a car that can't be broken and you can quick charge at the track, Top Gear can't complain. Stubborn as the are, I'd think they'd eat their words. But the legal response from Tesla makes me doubt that they'd make a car I'd ever be interested in. (which would be a track worthy electric sports car, still comfortable enough to commute in)


By the way, if you say it does work at a track, I'm local and willing to meet you at Laguna Seca or Sonoma anytime. Cheers!

Tesla should have persued 2 courses of action in my opinion:
1. You take it to the Board of Governors:
They are a committe that investigates complaints about programs.

Also, I think your lawyers did a very poor job for you - I am curious if they are aware of the BBC's OWN editorial guidelines!
They are NOT referenced in the lawsuit as far as I can see.
It is much easier to catch them in a lie if they state they are not allowed to lie / mislead!

Section 3 - Accuracy:
3.4.11 - Avoiding misleading audiences:
We must not knowingly and materially mislead our audiences with our content. We may need to clarify the nature of some content by labeling (for example, verbally, in text or with visual or audio cues) to avoid being misleading.

... if they claim the program is entertainment as they did your point is that defamation of a person for entertainment is not allowed, a company deserves the same rights. In many laws a company/person are interchangeable.

The BBC have been caught in many controversies in the last few years: most famously the Andrew Sachs phone call.

more on the BBC's own guidelines ... they broke EVERY one of these in the Roadster review: ... and I've only read the first few!

1.2.1 Trust
Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences.
("due accuracy", "knowingly mislead"... hmmm)

1.2.2 Truth and Accuracy
We seek to establish the truth of what has happened and are committed to achieving due accuracy in all our output. Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right; when necessary, we will weigh relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output, as appropriate to its subject and nature, will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will strive to be honest and open about what we don't know and avoid unfounded speculation.
(note the "ALL OUR OUTPUT" - entertainment is not exempt from lies when a company's survival was at stake!)

1.2.3 Impartiality
Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences. We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts.

1.2.4 Editorial Integrity and Independence
The BBC is independent of outside interests and arrangements that could undermine our editorial integrity. Our audiences should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures, or any personal interests.
(the personal interests of presenters?)

So, finally, two years after Top Gear’s Roadster episode, we learned in March, 2013 that Tesla’s lawsuit was over, and Tesla lost. Twice.

Wow. Top Gear is great fun when their antics frame/amplify the real attributes of a car. When they go over the top (so to speak), and it really isn't about the car, their shtick sometimes gets silly and boring. IMHO. The guys get busy being oh so full of themselves and oh so funny with each other that the car is left out, or, worse, it’s portrayed as a caricature of itself (their subject IS motor vehicles, right?).

I just saw the disputed Roadster episode for the first time, and this story. To me, a senior citizen gear-head, none of this is funny. In a rather transparent attempt to unfairly denigrate the Roadster as not ready for the real world, Top Gear intentionally misrepresented the product. Ha ha, that’s libel. People often sue over such stuff.

The court decision said that no reasonable person would fail to realize that range at the track would be less than on the street. OK, but how about showing us that the car really has a 245-mile range on the road? Nah, then the Roadster might possibly look like a reasonable proposition.

The court seemed to forget the falsified items: (1) The 2 cars did NOT break down, (2) did NOT need to be pushed (they portrayed it as a regularly occurring problem – now THAT’S injury), (3) the brakes still WORKED without power assist (and replacing a blown fuse is SOP in a road test review), and (4) the car takes 3.5 hours to charge, not 16 – or 600. Mr. Clarkson actually said that: 600 hours – charging from a broken, sad little windmill behind him in the scene.

Mr. Clarkson summed up his report by saying the Roadster is “an astonishing technical achievement…it’s just a shame that, in the real world, it doesn't seem to work”. Yeah, right: It doesn't work in your MAKE BELIEVE world. If I saw the show when originally aired, I would have quickly concluded that the Roadster was too flawed to consider as a steady ride, and certainly not worth $100K plus.

That would have been wrong, of course, as ~2,600 very happy owners have since proven (and there’s that Model S thing, too). "U.K. Court dismisses Tesla’s suit against Top Gear – what’s your call?", by Nick Jaynes, DIGITAL TRENDS, 3/11/13, at

contends, “Apparently Jeremy Clarkson can do whatever he wants, no matter how misleading or unfair it might be…While we love Top Gear and the silliness the program often pulls, we agree with Tesla’s complaints. We feel the testing was unfair”.

Mr. Musk could have let this go, but, hey, there was a struggling company at stake. Musk is/was a whiny a**hole? Like him (us) or not (them), he had to put out some kind of rebuttal. And gotta’ say, both Top Gear and the court were wrong. Demonstrably wrong. Gosh, fellow ICE lovers, how could this happen?

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