Tesla Motors of Palo Alto is very unhappy about the way that their new electric vehicle has been portrayed on the BBC’s “Top Gear” show—so upset, in fact, that they are suing the iconic British broadcaster for “libel and malicious falsehood.”
The questionable segment challenged the efficiency of the Tesla Roadster from the very first moment, jabbing at it from every possible angle. It opened with a comparison between the Roadster and cod liver oil versus a standard car and a plate of steak and chips. Yes, the cod liver oil may be better for you, but which would you rather eat? Within seconds they were describing how the sleek Tesla convertible is useless, “if you get burned off at the light by a fat jogger.” And it was downhill from there.
Tesla’s claim includes arguments that the show stated that the Roadster gets only 55 mpg, when it actually gets 200, that neither of the two vehicles shown in the show ran out of charge and had to be pushed as was portrayed on television. And that special sound and video effects were added to the taped footage to support the show’s contensions. Tesla officials also say that they saw a script before the episode was actually filmed, containing the assertion, “It’s a shame that in the real world, it absolutely doesn’t work.”
Tesla admitted that the car didn’t actually run out of juice, and that the pushing of the vehicle was staged to show what would have happened if the Roadster had run out of electricity. Of course, the same thing would have happened to a Mercedes or a Ford if it had run out of gas (or “petrol” in Top Gear-speak).
The truth is that the show has been challenged on numerous occasions for everything from disparaging vehicles to mocking gays and Germans. Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to “Criticism of Top Gear.”
Fortunately for Tesla, the libel laws in Britain are notoriously tough. This may soon change, however. Just two weeks ago, the Huffington Post reported that efforts are underway in Parliament to overhaul these laws. Tesla would do well to act before these laws are changed.