How We See It - Top Gear Lawsuit

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.

googlepeakoil | June 28, 2013

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?)

johnrysf | August 28, 2013

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?

ugly.tuco | February 4, 2015

Let me get this straight... you are suing one of the most beloved car shows on TV so that you get your way?... It is a car show for people who love cars. How much are they going to love your car if you negatively impact Top Gear. I didn't have an opinion about Tesla before this lawsuit... but now I do... and it is very negative.

graham.simmonds | February 16, 2015

The only reason that I know about Tesla was because of that Top Gear Roadster review. I only remembered three things about the car from the review:

1. It was all electric
2. It was extremely fast
3. It was eye-wateringly expensive.

This sowed a seed in my head and I have never forgotten about Tesla. And now I sit waiting for the delivery of my P85D as a direct result of that TG programme.

Even then I worked out that Clarkson had a bias against EVs and you should take what he said with a pinch of salt. Two Tesla lawsuits later and he has not changed one bit! You only had to watch last night's review of the BMW I8 to realise that.

Anis | February 18, 2015

Sad to be hearing about this, but Tesla should try a different tax now. Issue a challenge to Top Gear - review the model s P85D ... It gives a chance for both parties to bury the hatchet.

Anis | February 18, 2015

^tac. (Not tax)